A group called EUROPARC has won the 1st-prize honors in the international competition to design a new European Parliament building in Brussels after the results of a July vote from the body were shared on Tuesday.
The full ensemble included JDSA / Julien De Smedt Architects (Denmark), Carlo Ratti Associati (Italy), NL Architects (Netherlands), Coldefy (France), UTIL cvba (Belgium), Ramboll (Denmark), and ENSAMBLE STUDIO (Spain) for the opportunity to redesign the plenary Paul-Henri SPAAK Building that has fallen into decay and was seen by many as being up for a likely demolition after just 25 years in service.
Their entry beat out the 2nd-prize proposal from Jabornegg & Pálffy with Kuehn Malvezzi and Austria’s AXIS Ingenieurleistungen in addition to 3 other named finalists and the remaining 10 candidates that were chosen from a pool of 132 entries in 2 phases, including OMA, Shigeru Ban, Snøhetta, Renzo Piano, and Dominique Perrault among others.
“The jury applauded the genuine reuse approach adopted by this project, [which] allows to maintain most of the existing structure — and thus its embodied carbon — while providing it with a new external identity and an improved permeability to the public,” a statement from the body reads of the team’s winning proposal.
"The building should not be impenetrable but should be a place of openness," the winners describe their entry, and this is reflected in their design they say "place[s] people at the center of the spatial experience and brings them closer to the democratic processes of Europe."
Its strategy entails a public realm expansion outside the building, with the addition of a new public pathway through the parliament stemming from the removal of part of the facade of the adjacent Spinelli building to present a grand and more democratic new entrance to visitors. A modernized Hemicycle chamber is repositioned at the top levels of the structure, complemented by a rooftop garden whose view is established through large windows that also double as giant digital ticker tape when the assembly is in session.
Finally, a new Green Agora feature will occupy the top floor, culminating the visitors into a "gathering space" botanical garden populated by vegetation from each of the EU's 27 member states. This is meant as an important, environmentally-conscious reflection of the important exchange of ideas taking in the visible assembly below at a time when Europe faces ascendant challenges caused by climate change, economic uncertainties, and military conflict.
“With a war on the doorstep of Europe, and an ensuing energy crisis ever more pressing, the challenges faced by the European Union are shared by us all," the brief reads finally. "As a team of Pan-European offices composed of more than 30 nationalities, we understand and feel the impact of these difficulties directly. Our collective proposal to rethink the parliament building in a way that minimizes environmental impact while expanding its openness and civic inclusion as embodiments of the values of European democracy are therefore evermore relevant.”
More information, including a full design statement and flythrough animation, about the EUROPARC proposal can be found on the competition's website. A guide to each of the 5 finalists' designs can also be found here.
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