The European Parliament has relaunched its international design contest for a landmark new headquarters in Brussels
The competition – featuring revised terms – seeks proposals to either demolish and rebuild, or refurbish and reconfigure the 1995 Paul-Henri Spaak parliament building, which hosts more than 700 MEPs representing the member states of the European Union (EU), along with press areas, meeting spaces and visitor facilities.
An earlier contest for the same project was launched in December but abandoned earlier this year. According to a spokesperson for the European Parliament, the competition was relaunched with revised terms to ‘increase even further its chances of receiving projects which correspond to expectations for a project of such importance.’
The new design contest is being held in accordance with UNESCO and UIA regulations. UK teams may participate under the ‘rules on access to public procurement and competition procedures applicable to economic operators established in third countries.’ UK participants previously risked being excluded during later stages if an agreement with the EU on future trade failed to materialise before the deadline at the end of this year.
The Paul-Henri Spaak parliament building was designed by Michel Boucquillon following a competition in the 1980s but is considered no longer fit for purpose following the expansion of the union and new security standards. It is located at the junction of two urban planning zones and is next to a large park in Brussels, Parc Léopold, where various cultural and scientific establishments are located.
Leena Maria Linnus, European Parliament director general for infrastructure and logistics, said: ‘The European Parliament is a symbolic heart and home of European democracy, central to the continent’s modern history. The European Parliament, through its directly elected Members, represents more than 440 million European citizens.
‘The enlargement of the European project, currently with 27 Member States, and changes in security standards require a renewal of the plenary building (SPAAK building). At the same time, the complex should meet the requirements of a transparent organisation. The Parliament of the Members is the Parliament of the people. It is open to citizens, interacts with them and provides them with an extraordinary experience.
’With the renewed complex, the European Parliament seeks to set an example in its overall environmental approach. It is intended to be sustainable, with sustainability being measured in terms of operability, maintainability, flexibility and adaptability. This flexibility should be considered in terms of space, time and technologies.’
The new or refurbished building will contain a chamber that can accommodate all MEPs as well as visitors; parliamentary committee and trilogue rooms; a reception, meeting and educational area for citizens; protocol areas; media areas; areas for cultural activities; areas for social interaction; and support areas for all European Parliament activities. Building flexibility should allow areas to have multiple uses and, in the long term, for functions to be easily altered.
Brussels is the de facto capital of the European Union. The European Quarter, located in the centre of the historic city, is home to both the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. Landmark structures in the area include the Lucien De Vestel-designed Berlaymont building, the Justus Lipsius building, and a large complex – known as the Espace Léopold – which contains the parliament.
The call for anonymous applications comes almost a year after a Spanish, UK and German consortium won an international contest for an enormous new 175,000m² to 190,000m² European Commission office complex in Brussels.
Applications must be in English and teams selected to participate in the design phase of the competition will each receive €75,000 to submit concepts. Judges will include European Parliament vice-presidents Rainer Wieland and Pedro Silva Pereira along with Danish architect Dorte Mandrup and Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima.
One overall winner will receive €120,000 and be invited to negotiate for a contract to design and deliver the new parliament building. A second prize of €100,000, third prize of €80,000, fourth prize of €60,000 and fifth prize of €40,000 will also be awarded.
The deadline for applications is 4pm local time on 9 July.
How to apply
Cuxhavener Straße 12-13