All the European Union thrives is reflected and celebrated through the design
Moreau Kusunoki has been awarded third prize in the restricted international design competition for the renewal of the Paul-Henri Spaak Building, the seat of the European Parliament in Brussels. Moreau Kusunoki’s vision for its renewal aspires to reveal a multifaceted view onto Europe, its democracy and its ideals. The diversity of natures and cultures, and of languages, opinions, and structures – all that the European Union thrives on – is reflected and celebrated through the design. The architecture fosters a full spectrum of possibilities and of perspectives, and it becomes the embodiment of the European common ground, physically and ideologically: it is the place where the different voices converge; the place to forge shared values and objectives.
The programme is articulated through a series of fragmented volumes, rather than standing in a monolithic mass, in order to integrate into the surroundings in harmony with their scale. Restoring the spatial continuity between the historical centre, Parc Leopold and even with Parc du Cinquantenaire, the Parliament complex becomes part of the everyday walk for citizens and visitors of Brussels alike. The series of gardens inside and outside Brussels’ new European Parliament are an allegory of the European Union, a symbolic gesture that evokes its strong roots and ever-evolving nature.
The primary focus of the design is the low environmental impact through thoughtful use of resources. The project aims at a sensitive balance between renewal and sustainability, and succeeds at drastically reinventing the building’s image and performance, while preserving as much of its current constructed mass as sensible, to minimise the carbon footprint. Approximately 60% of the existing built fabric is maintained, a significant part of foundations, floor slabs, as well as components of the structure that offered enough spatial flexibility. Reflecting the transparency of the democratic process which takes place in this very building, the volumes intentionally unveil their inner activity to the public. At night, the Parliament’s inner-workings are displayed and made visible through the four “lighthouses”. As the great chamber, the large committee room, the culture multipurpose area and the visitor panorama sit at the summit of their respective volumes, their late-night decisions, events or activities contribute to the Institution’s theatrical dimension on a city scale. The building is transformed into a communicative beacon and stands as a dynamic point of reference for the citizens it is dedicated to.
About Moreau Kusunoki
The architecture of Moreau Kusunoki is rooted in the cultural duality of their origins. This creative reconciliation is expressed in the constant interplay of scales in space and time, in a gentle oscillation between reason and intuition. They design in the belief that architecture is best conceived in reserve and introspection, allowing for the emergence of poetic visions towards an architectural ‘in-between’: undefined spaces creating the potential for new meaning and personal experiences through user appropriation. Moreau Kusunoki have won numerous projects in national and international design competitions, including the award-winning proposal for the Guggenheim Helsinki, Sciences Po’s new university campus in the centre of Paris, the National Lighthouse Museum in Brest, and the Powerhouse Parramatta Museum in Sydney, Australia.