Renewable technologies include rainwater- flushing toilets and a photovoltaic “umbrella” on the roof that will provide about six per cent of the total power require- ment, as well as create a naturally ventilated and sheltered external space.

Six percent might sound low for a PV installation, but Samyn says it was tough to achieve given the building’s high energy demand from equipment and computers, which he compares to a high tech factory. The PV array covers both the modern and the historical parts of the building and symbolises the link between the present, the past and the future.

Europa divided

The new EU headquarters was originally scheduled for completion in 2012, but a series of delays, related to the project sched- ule and wider political issues, pushed back the opening to January of this year. Initial surveys had failed to reveal the extent of asbestos in the existing building, which had a knock-on effect on removal work. A decision was made to retain much more of the building than the listing required, resulting in a redesign and additional time. The effective start of the construction was

ADF MAY 2017

delayed initially by the discovery of oil pollu- tion in the ground and by an appeal made by one of the participants in the tender for the construction of the building. In addition, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force in December 2009, during Europa’s design and construction, resulting in programme modifications, such as new security measures, adaptations and building permits. As a result, costs increased over the development period, from the original estimate of €240m to over €320m. The increasing budget drew scorn from David Cameron, who in 2011 expressed his “immense frustration” at the amount to be spent. “You do wonder whether these institu- tions actually get what every country is having to go through as we cut budgets and try to make our finances add up,” he said in a press conference. However, Samyn contends that the final cost is typical of many equivalent corporate HQ buildings of this type. The argument over costs seems almost trivial, given the scale of the Brexit ‘divorce bill’ is estimated to be as much as £50bn and the Europa building will prove a vital arena, over the coming two years, as politicians wrangle over the final agreement. 

ABOVE AND BELOW © colours: Georges Meurant


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