25 years – EU Parliament Buildings

Published: July 31, 2013

European Parliament Headquarters in Brussels © Association des Architectes du CIC: Vanden Bossche sprl, CRV sa, CG sprl, Studiegroep D. Bonticnck_Architecte: AEL, Atelier de Genval-CERAU-M. Van Campenhout - Tractebel Dev s.a. et ingenieurs associes

 

Looking back on 25 year’s continuous involvement on Brussels’ EU Parliament Buildings; it’s clear, from the start to today’s Energy Efficiency programme and more, Tractebel Engineering has added value.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING

Tractebel Engineering’s long association with the EU Parliament buildings (“Espace Léopold”) in Brussels is partly explained by our “historic” shared responsibility for their existence in the first place…
Discover the history of these buildings and how they link to Tractebel Engineering’s past and present.

A NEW ERA IN INFRASTRUCTURE

Creating “Espace Léopold” for the EU Parliament complex in Brussels not only changed political history, it also brought a new architectural and global urban vision into play. It would take unusual and multidisciplinary expertise to meet the challenges ahead… Read more

THE ‘EVEREST’ OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAMMES

Since the creation of the EU Parliament buildings, energy regulations and building requirements have evolved. Leading by example, the EU Parliament has contracted Tractebel Engineering to carry out a huge energy efficiency study of all of its buildings in Brussels with the double goal of reducing energy costs and 30% of the carbon footprint by 2020… Read more

STILL TICKING ALL THE BOXES

Even as the last two buildings were under construction, Tractebel Engineering had begun work on several retro-fit projects in the first buildings. To this day we are involved in several ongoing EU Parliament building projects, performing life-cycle activities related to their cost-effective and efficient operation… Read more


  • © European Union
  • © European Union 2012 PE-EP
  • Construction site of the Paul-Henri Spaak building in Brussels © European Union PE-EP
  • Building site at the European Parliament in Brussels - Luxembourg station and J. Antall Building © European Union 2004 PE-EP
  • Ongoing construction works at the EP buildings in Brussels © European Union 2012 PE-EP
  • Ongoing construction works at the EP building © European Union 2012 PE-EP

 

HISTORY IN THE MAKING

Tractebel Engineering’s long association with the EU Parliament buildings (“Espace Léopold”) in Brussels is partly explained by our “historic” shared responsibility for their existence in the first place…

MAPPING IT OUT

  • The EU Parliament buildings in Brussels were the vision of influential financial figure, Hubert Detremmerie, CEO of BACOB Bank.
  • In the 1980’s he convinced the Head of the EU Parliament that, as most other EU institutions, including the EU Commission HQ (Berlaymont building) were in Brussels it would be logical to house the EU Parliament in Brussels, close to other EU activities.
  • Financial and development partners for the project were found in Société Générale de Belgique (SGB) and its President, Etienne Davignon – that later, via a series of mergers, would become GDF SUEZ.
  • Each taking a 50% share, BACOB and SGB created the company Société Espace Léopold in 1988. SGB split its 50% share equally with 2 other Group companies; Immobel and Tractebel.
  • Tractebel’s subsidiary Tractebel Development Engineering (TDE) was at the time Belgium’s largest, multi-disciplinary engineering company, fully dedicated to the realisation of major, groundbreaking and complex infrastructure projects under the direction and vision of Charles Dufour. As CEO of TDE he was central to the partnership and decision-making behind the project start up.
  • With the go-ahead given by the EU Parliament, operations began involving several reputed architects and engineering companies. One of these was TDE which was awarded structural and technical engineering contracts for 60% of the complete design of the 5 building, EU Parliament complex.
  • Work on the first building, the iconic Paul-Henri Spaak building, started in 1989 and the last building constructed was completed in 2009. Tractebel Engineering’s Infrastructure entity, first as TDE and today SSI (Smart & Sustainable Infrastructure), was involved from start to finish – and beyond… Read bout The Everest of Energy Efficiency and other ongoing projects

  • aerial view Leopold Rail Station © Parlement Europeen. ASP architecte AEL, PHS Architecte, Association des architectes du CIC : sprl C.R.V., s.a. CDG sprl Studieggroep D. Bontinck, JAN et Wib (D4-D5dg Atelier de Genval-Cerau- M Van Campenhout, - Tractebel dev s.a. et ingenieurs associes
  • W. Brandt & J. Antall buildings construction site © European Union 2007 PE-EP W. Brandt & J. Antall buildings construction site © European Union 2007 PE-EP
  • Footbridge between J. Antall and A. Spirelli buildings in Brussels © European Union 2012 PE-EP
  • Winter hits Brussels, with freezing temperatures and snow covering the EP buildings © European Union 2013 EP
  • Solidarnosc Esplanade © European Union 2013 EP

 

A NEW ERA IN INFRASTRUCTURE

Creating “Espace Léopold” for the EU Parliament in Brussels not only changed political history, it also brought a new architectural and global urban vision into play. It would take unusual and multidisciplinary expertise to meet the challenges ahead…

A NEW ARCHITECTURAL VISION
Breaking with the uncontrolled high-rise urbanisation of Brussels in the 1960’s (“Brusselisation” – now a byword for haphazard urban development) the 1980’s brought a more socially oriented architectural vision. “Espace Léopold” was a pioneer project in this: mixing offices, conference rooms, restaurants, shops, residential and social spaces in buildings better integrated with their historical and social neighbourhoods. The challenge to manage this required exceptional expertise and a company like Tractebel Development Engineering to provide it. (see History in the Making)

MODERN CONSTRUCTION WITH A HISTORICAL FACADE
The site chosen for the EU Parliament buildings was an old brewery and the workshop area around the Leopold District Railway Station (Brussels-Luxembourg Station). An engineering challenge was that not only was the old station facade to be preserved for posterity; the new station was also to be integrated as part of the complex. This involved covering the operating train station with a concrete slab able to support high-rise buildings above it – without interrupting transport services during works!

MAIN CHALLENGES – BUILDING BY BUILDING

  • First built was the Paul-Henri Spaak building (1989-1995), housing offices for the Parliament’s president and senior Parliament staff and the famous hemicycle (debating chamber), for which the design and installation of all the audio/visual, translation and voting systems was a technical challenge.
  • Next was the Altiero Spinelli building (1991-1997). The vertebrae of the complex; it is the largest building with five office towers 17 floors high built above the railway station.
  • Left and right of the old train station are the Willy Brandt building (2002-2007) and the József Antall building (2004-2009), connected by the circular Konrad Adenauer footbridge. The Antall building includes an entrance to the fully modernised station. The old train station building now houses an exhibition and information centre.


Considering the scale, scope and importance of these studies for our client, and as a reference, they are the ‘Everest’ of Energy Efficiency studies. But if you can manage Everest, you can achieve anything!Andrei Ternoveanu, Senior Project Manager

THE ‘EVEREST’ OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAMMES

Since the EU Parliament buildings were conceived, energy requirements for buildings have evolved. Leading by example, the EU Parliament has contracted Tractebel Engineering to carry out a massive energy efficiency study of its buildings in Brussels with the double goal of reducing energy costs and 30% of the carbon footprint by 2020…

EVOLVING NEEDS & EXPERTISE
The last 20 years have seen many changes in building regulations and technologies. With knowledge of the original building designs and leading energy efficiency knowhow, software capabilities and methodologies, Tractebel Engineering/SSI (Smart & Sustainable Infrastructure) is still deeply involved in providing the EU Parliament with answers – this time to important energy efficiency questions such as: the need, investments required, expected ROI, difficulty of works, maintenance of the buildings and more.

2011- 2015 – A 3-PHASE STUDY
Linked to a separate, but co-ordinated, study of 4 buildings in Strasbourg (340,000 m²), Tractebel Engineering/SSI is running energy efficiency studies for 11 EU Parliament buildings in Brussels (580,000 m²), each the subject of 3 study phases:

  • Site analysis and detailed building audits
  • Modelling of different improvement solutions and costs; including impacts on the buildings’ day to day functioning ability;
  • Feasibility studies and basic design of various solutions.

A MONUMENTAL CHALLENGE
All 3 phases are carried out, building by building; involving interviews with service and technical personnel, visits to close to 11,000 (mostly occupied!) rooms, plus review of 1000’s of plans showing retro-fit works carried out in the last 16 years. Subcontractors also have to be managed. Given the multiple solutions to be considered, each building leads to at least 30 mini feasibility studies; it is a huge mission.

Our early entry, investment and proactivity in this domain are key to our ability to handle an energy efficiency study of this level. Beyond the delivery of complex infrastructure, we are here to assist our clients by providing them with essential information important to all aspects of their future planning, investment and cost-effective operation and maintenance of their buildings.Jean-Pierre Miller, Product Director-SSI/Buildings & Industrial sites.

  • © Parlement Europeen.ASP architecte AEL, PHS Architecte, Association des architectes du CIC : sprl C.R.V., s.a. CDG sprl Studieggroep D. Bontinck, JAN et Wib (D4-D5dg Atelier de Genval-Cerau- M Van Campenhout, - Tractebel dev s.a. et ingenieurs associes
  • General view of hemicycle © European Union 2012 PE-EP
  • Model of the EP in Tractebel Engineering main hall © James Geskiere (Tractebel Engineering)

 

STILL TICKING ALL THE BOXES

Tractebel Engineering/SSI continues to this day to be involved in many on-going projects in the EU Parliament buildings, performing a life-cycle of activities related to their cost-effective and efficient operation…

2004 – 2012 – MCGT Framework contract
This contract was awarded via public tender to a consortium created by architects Malève, Cerau & Genval and Tractebel Engineering (MCGT). Its purpose was to adapt the first Parliament buildings to the various changing needs of a growing Parliament. In this time, 42 different projects and studies were carried out in which Tractebel Engineering was responsible for all structural and technical engineering. Also providing Project Management (planning, site analysis, quality and budget control) and Site Supervision, various project examples included:

  • Refurbishment of the main entrance.
  • Enlargement of the complex’s central kitchen (increasing catering capacity from 3,000 up to 5,000 dishes a day).
  • Construction of a new security control room – leading to additional contracts for site supervision of video camera installation and access control in all 3 Parliament sites (1,000 in total), as well as an intruder detection systems in Strasbourg and paging system in Brussels.

2011 – 2015 – Refurbishment Paul Henri Spaak building (audit and technical assistance)
Following initial audits conducted and recommendations particularly concerning technical installations update, fire safety (standards & regulation evolution), improved building energy efficiency performance and the global use of workspaces (non-assigned offices to allow more efficient use of space), the Paul Henri Spaak building is to undergo major interior and exterior envelope renovation. Mission is being managed together with our partner AT Osborne, with review and control provided by Tractebel Engineering/SSI under a 4 year framework contract.

Owner’s Engineering requires a specific competency level and based on our level of experience, technical knowledge and leading expertise in a broad range of disciplines; fire protection, energy efficiency in buildings and structural domains. Tractebel Engineering assists the client with ongoing technical advice as well as design review and control of the works to be carried out.

ONGOING VALUE

Our knowledge of the EU Parliament buildings; the original concept, goals, design and layout and handling of the engineering challenges goes back a long way, creating a sense of involvement and responsibility that is as strong now as it was then…Yves Kerremans, Sales Director SSI Buildings & Industrial sites

1989-2009
Design & Engineering services for the main 5 buildings
2004-2012
MCGT Framework contract (multi-disciplinary activities)
2007-2011
Security System Upgrade (3 sites; Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg)
2010-2012
Parliamentarium (Visitors’ Centre and Museum of European history)
2011-2015
Refurbishment Paul Henri Spaak building (audit and technical assistance)
2011-2015
Energy Efficiency programmes for 11 EU Parliament buildings in Brussels
2013-2015
Public Address system extension for 11 EU Parliament buildings in Brussels

More information

Click on picture to enlarge

From L. to R.
Hugues Forest– Expert-SSI/Buildings
Jean-Pierre Miller – Product Director-SSI/Buildings & Industrial sites
Andrei Ternoveanu– Senior Project Manager-SSI/Buildings
Yves Kerremans – Sales Director-SSI/Buildings & Industrial sites
Gautier Baudru – Project Engineer-SSI/Buildings

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