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EU Commission pledges to liven up Brussels

An international competition to reinvigorate the 'sterile' European Quarter in Brussels has been launched by the EU Commission.

EU chiefs are anxious to inject 'human' life into the quarter, Rue de la Loi - the administrative hub of Brussels - by increasing residential, cultural and leisure facilities.

According to reports, the scheme will involve 220,000m2 of new office space plus 180,000m2 of housing throughout the European Quarter, and in particular along Rue Lalaing, Rue Orban and Rue Guimard.

The masterplan competition, unveiled by Commission vice-president, Siim Kallas, is coupled with a pledge to develop a coherent architectural strategy for the EU's various public buildings.

The new buildings policy - as the strategy is known - is the first in a series of steps the Commission is planning to squeeze more value for money from its property.

The influential Architects Council of Europe (ACE) has welcomed the fresh initiative, stating the EU has 'finally woken up' to the added value architecture brings to society and the economy.

In a statement, the ACE said: '(This is) a policy that will ensure that higher architectural quality and greater sustainability will be used as criteria in all new acquisitions made and transformations.'

It continued: 'This move brings the Commission in line with the other main institutions of the EU who have already, through their actions, shown that they realise the importance of architectural quality and sustainability.'

The three main EU Institutions - the Council, Parliament and Commission - have also promised that architectural quality will be weaved into the new Regulations for the Cohesion and Regional Funds for 2007-13.

The ACE warned it would 'not falter' in its efforts to see all commitments delivered in EU policies.

by Clive Walker

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