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The Résidence Palace is a complex of buildings adjacent to Rue de la Loimarker in the European Quartermarker of Brusselsmarker (Belgiummarker). Drawn in Art Deco style by Swissmarker-born architect Michel Polak and built between 1922 and 1927 as a prestigious housing collective for the most privileged layers of society, the building has partly been listed as a historic monument. Today the various blocks are used for mixed purposes. The Belgian government bought the complex in 1947 and used Bloc A for administrative offices. Bloc 2 has in recent years been an international press centre used by journalists for their coverage of activities related to the major European Union institutions nearby. A pre-war period swimming pool, a theatre and a restaurant have been maintained. Bloc A is currently being refurbished and enlarged, and is scheduled to be taken over by the European Council and the Council of the European Union in 2013.

Next to the building is the Justus Lipsiusmarker (current location for the EU Council) and across the road from the Berlaymontmarker and Charlemagne buildingsmarker of the European Commissionmarker.


Bloc B seen from Chaussée d'Etterbeek
Wallonmarker Businessman Lucien Kaisin planned the building following the end of the First World War. It was to be a luxurious apartment block for the bourgeoisie and aristocracy of Brussels following a housing shortage caused by the war. It was also intended to address the shortage of domestic workers at the time by having them available to all residents. Kaisin described the building as "a small town within a city".

The building was designed by a Swissmarker architect Michel Polak, and the foundation stone of the Art Deco building was laid on 1923-05-30 with the first residents moving in in 1927. Associated facilities included a theatre hall, a swimming pool and other commercial services such as a restaurant.

At the end of the 1960s, as part of work to modernise the area during the construction of an underground railway line beneath rue de la Loi, a new aluminium façade was added on that side under the supervision of Michel Polak's sons. Finally, in 1988, the eastern part of the building was demolished to make way for the construction of the Justus Lipsius building. The original façades of the Résidence Palace building, the entrances and the central ground-floor corridor are now listed as a national heritage site.

Future development

The area under reconstruction (Jan 2009)
In 2004, a suggestion made by the Belgian government that Bloc A of the Résidence Palace be taken over by the Council of the European Union and the European Council as their new headquarters, was agreed. The need for the extension arose due to the 2004 and 2007 EU enlargements.

A European competition was opened to redesign the building to suit the needs of the institutions. In 2005 it was announced that Samyn & Partners (Belgiummarker), Studio Valle Progettazioni (Italymarker) and Buro Happold (United Kingdommarker) had cooperated and submitted the winning design. Plans include the addition of a large, modern extension, with a contemporary glass facade. The refurbished bloc A and its extension was planned to be finished and inaugurated in 2012.

Rendering of one of the meeting rooms
Its opening has been delayed a year and its cost has risen from 240 million to €315 million. The complex would be handed over from the Belgian state to the Council for the symbolic price of €1. The facade of the new extension will be a "patchwork of traditional wood-frame windows from different European countries" with meeting and press rooms covering over 6000 square metres in an urn-shaped structure, each floor varying in size. The original 1920s part of the palace will be restored and also form part of the complex. The building will also be the first in Belgium to be continuously monitored by environmental auditors, it will have solar panels on the roof and recycle rain water.

See also


  5. Pop, Valentina (14 September 2009) Top EU institution to move into eco-friendly building, EU Observer

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