European Parliament building receiving radical green renovation
The aging European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium, has been deemed inadequate for continued use. Rather than constructing something from scratch, a design collective including Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) is proposing an ambitious renovation of the existing building that will reuse the original structure and add sustainability features and lots of greenery.
The proposal is being handled by the Europarc collective, which, alongside CRA, involves Julien De Smedt Architects, Coldefy, NL Architects and Ensamble Studio, with engineers UTIL and Ramboll. The overriding idea behind it is to avoid the waste that comes with demolishing buildings.
"The current SPAAK building has numerous shortcomings," explained Europarc. "However demolishing it and replacing it with a new 'palace' might be the wrong approach. In the building sector, over 50% of the carbon footprint generated happens in constructing the raw structure of a building. If fully dismantled, all that expense is lost and needs to be spent again in a new construction. Here, the strategy should be to rigorously re-use most of the SPAAK structure, its carbon expense. Furthermore, the design strategy offers to significantly improve the Parliament's working conditions and catalyze the potential for communication and exchange with European citizens while keeping as much of the existing structure as possible."
The building's interior will be centered around a new assembly chamber of the European Parliament, named the Hemicycle. This will feature a large window that can also function as some sort of display to inform passersby during assemblies. Its uppermost floor, meanwhile, will be occupied by the so-called Green Agora, which will create a lush botanical garden on the rooftop and connect to the Hemicycle through an open ceiling. In a nice touch, the park will host vegetation indigenous to all 27 EU member states.
Elsewhere throughout the building will be a welcome center, culture and event spaces, restaurants, and office space. Europarc will also remove a wall area to open up the immediate area around the building and accessibility will be improved throughout too.
Generous glazing will maximize daylight inside and a solar panel array will reduce its power draw on the grid. Rainwater collection systems will be installed for irrigation use and air quality will be prioritized with natural ventilation systems.
The project is the winning proposal from an architecture competition launched back in 2020 though we've no word yet on when it's expected to be completed.
Source: Carlo Ratti Associati