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BIOCUBE, NEW EUROPEAN COUNCIL
BRUSSELS 2005
BELGIUM

IN COLLABORATION WITH : Vasconi Associated Architects, Paris
ASSOCIATED PARTNER : Atelier de Genval, Belgium
PROGRAM: Restructuring of "Residence Palace", Future Headquarters of the European Council and the Council of Ministers of the European Union in Brussels (meeting rooms, Presidential offices, offices for Member States' delegations and the directors of the Council's General Secretariat, reception rooms, offices for civil servants and other related facilities)
LOCATION : European Quarter, Brussels
SURFACE AREA: 45 000 m² (superstructure) and 15.000 m² (infrastructure)
COMPETITION PROMOTER: The Belgian Public Buildings Agency with the Council of Europe and the Union International of Architects
TEAM : Vincent Callebaut, Benoit Patterlini and Philippe Steels
WEBSITE: www.claude-vasconi.f
The great perspective that offers itself on Brussels in the continuation of the Rue de le Loi from the Parc du Cinquantenaire and, more in downstream from the Schuman traffic circle opens particularly on the buildings of the European Community.

- On the Berlaimont and its esplanade recently rehabilitated,
- On the Charlemagne just after,
- On the Juste Lipse and the block A of the Résidence Palace located in front of the « Berlaimont » and « Le LEX » whose construction has begun.

This block is however disparate and does not offers a major building that by its presence, its grandness, its exemplary nature, its novelty, can symbolise the « heart » of the European institutions. The Council of the European Union must be a building:

- Located in the geographical centre of this wide European Quarter,
- Opening itself on the perspective that represent the rue de la Loi and the Esplanade de l’Europe,
- Wedged in the corner that forms the historical building of the Résidence Palace.

Our project forms a big crystalline cube in levitation, unsticked from the square it recovers, perfect prism towards whom all the strength lines focus, all the approach perspectives, and that contains all the rooms dedicated to the Council of Ministers. This prism covers the old alignment of the rue de la Loi, which enables to move slightly forward the buildings that surround it on both sides. By its absolute form (a perfect cube), it presents itself as per magic by transforming the location... Through its transparency, its clarity, it reveals the rooms, these high locations of meetings of European summit conferences, object of this consultation. It will be the only building really crystalline, and its double glass layer, its fine structure all in metal lace makes its so specific forms appears that are the receptacles of the rooms. The cube itself is the receptacle of this set and forms a second layer, as climatic as physiological.

We suggest the realisation of a genuine « Biocube » as metaphor of a « Biosphere ».

Well wedged in the angle that forms the old Résidence Palace, unsticked from it by a big « Galleria Atrium » finely planted, slightly emergent from the new angle that form the second angle of the offices, the cube is however anchored and supported by the whole vertical columns rooted in the earth. The square that slides under the cube, leads the visitors to the reception hall previously controlled. Le parvis qui glisse sous le cube conduit les visiteurs au hall d’accueil préalablement contrôlé. Many elevators and escalators lead to the different levels and correspond to the different degrees of required control. Thus, the journalists, the reception rooms, the cafeterias, the restaurants and the kitchens are contained in the inferior levels of this building.

Contrary to this, along the elevation (and the filtration), there are the great room and its annex as well as the foyers that accompany it. Higher in a big very free volume, genuine furtive metal carapace, are located the additional conference rooms and their annexes and foyers. At the top there are the secret meeting rooms, «bunkerised» in their double layer and thus expressed. These three free volumes form genuine meteorites suspended in the crystal cube, whose interstices create these beaches that need the numerous foyers, meeting spaces, multiple bars suitable to exchanges. These are true suspended gardens. The spatial perspectives are reach and various according to the fact that they head toward outside or toward inside and its huge linear atrium.

The infrastructures are reconsidered, to contain the necessary car parks and technical premises, to free up the hold of the subway, and their access ramp is relocated. The VIP access can be done in the continuation of the existing one at the Juste Lipse. It can be done from the square that opens on the rue de la Loi.

To conclude, this project offers a strong symbol of the image that suits to the transparent Europe, the image of unity and opening of the city to the citizens. It is the window of Europe.