Design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renovate the European Parliament in Belgium

EUROPARC’s winning project for the renovation of the European Parliament

The pan-European design collective EUROPARC presents the winning proposal for the renovation of the Paul Henri SPAAK building in Brussels, Belgium. The project, which won first prize in an international competition organized by the European Parliament, underlines the identity of the European Union and the value of democracy by promoting the principles of circular construction. The design features a permeable structure with minimal environmental impact, including an iconic green agora that invites members to meet and exchange ideas.

‘With a war on Europe’s doorstep and a consequent ever more pressing energy crisis, the challenges facing the European Union are shared by all of us. As a pan-European office team of more than 30 nationalities, we understand and feel first-hand the impact of these difficulties.’ the EUROPARC team shares.


the project aims to strengthen the connection between the building and the city by opening up the block

all images courtesy of JDSA / Julien De Smedt Architects

connect the parliament to the city

As the pan-European design collective mentions, the current SPAAK building has a number of shortcomings. However, tearing it down and replacing it wasn’t the ideal approach for them. ‘In the construction industry, over 50% of the carbon footprint generated occurs in the construction of the building shell. If completely dismantled, all that expense is lost and must be spent again on new construction.’ explains the EUROPARC team. Instead, the proposal’s strategy is to consistently reuse most of the pre-existing structure and its carbon waste.

The project aims to strengthen the connection between the building and the city by opening up the block and improving the continuity of pedestrian flows. Public space is expanded both inside and outside the architecture, creating a more welcoming experience for visitors. Furthermore, a walkway that passes through the Parliament in a natural and intuitive way will provide a great entrance for visitors to the Parliament and create a real node in the Brussels pedestrian network.

design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renovate the european parliament in belgium
the project provides for a permeable structure with minimal environmental impact

modernized meeting room

The European Parliament’s new assembly hall, called the Hemicycle, will be relocated to the upper floors to meet the space requirements of a modernized plenary hall. It will be equipped with digital capabilities that help spread the discourse of democracy beyond physical borders. The room is extensively integrated with Parliament’s digital platform to improve transparency and encourage external participation. Another key feature are the large windows which create a visual dialogue between the Parliament, the roof garden, the city and European citizens in general. One of these large windows can also be used as a screen to broadcast real-time information during meetings.

design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renovate the european parliament in belgium
a green passage crosses the Parliament and facilitates circulation

The Green Agora

On the top floor of the new Parliament, the Green Agora is the highlight of the public’s visit to the building. The botanical garden is inspired by the Agora of ancient Greece, which literally means ‘meeting place’ and facilitated the exchange of ideas between the people of that time. The Green Agora is not only visually connected to the plenary hall through its open ceiling, but will also act as a beacon of European democracy where citizens and Members of the European Parliament can interact. Furthermore, the spirit of pan-European synergy will be strengthened in natural terms, as the park will bring together native vegetation from all Member States to create a diverse European ecosystem.

Overall, EUROPARC’s new SPAAK building – with its permeable first floor, Hemicycle and Green Agora – creates a civic ecosystem that puts people at the center of the spatial experience and brings them closer to democratic processes in Europe. It is a unique infrastructure which offers Members of the European Parliament space to carry out their parliamentary duties and citizens access to a place of great political and social value which enriches their daily lives.

design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renovate the european parliament in belgium
the Green Agora will serve as the highlight of the refurbished building

design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renovate the european parliament in belgium
EUROPARC’s proposal creates a civic ecosystem that puts people at the center of the spatial experience

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design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renovate the european parliament in belgium

design collective EUROPARC wins competition to renovate the european parliament in belgium

project information:

first name: Paul Henri SPAAK building
architects: EUROPARC (JDSA / Julien De Smedt Architects, Coldefy, CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, NL Architects, and Ensamble with support from UTIL and Ramboll)
Position: Brussels, Belgium

myrto katsikopoulou I designboom

November 17, 2022

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