New interior for European Council in Brussels by Dutch designers

15/01/2016/BvL
Architecture office XML and designer Jurgen Bey designed a series of spaces for the European Council building in Brussels.

The exchange of ideas is at the heart of politics. The architecture in which this exchange takes place has a powerful impact on the type of conversation. The design of XML and Bey for the European Council building stimulates this exchange of ideas with the design of the presidential chambers. The new design offers multiple seating arrangements combined into a single space. Government leaders can change positions between group settings or bilateral talks, and can choose sides on opposing benches or have a dialogue in a more informal setting.

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The space also provides an exchange in a very literal way. The space is in build out of 28 interlocking unique furniture pieces representing the EU’s 28 member states, echoing the motto of the European Union united in diversity. At the end of the 2016 Dutch presidency of the European Union one individual piece will be shipped to every member state. In a subtle way, the design reminds European leaders how unique and very different elements simultaneously can be part of a larger whole.
 
The redesign of the meeting room is part of a larger project of XML and Bey for the Justus Lipsius building of the European Council on the occasion of the Dutch Presidency of the EU and its cultural program ‘Europe by People’.

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Blue screen

The building of the European Council is the place where national governments of the 28 member states make decisions that impact the lives of half a billion people. Paradoxically this crucial public building is closed off for the public. The project aims to connect the inner world of the Council with the Europe that lies beyond the walls of the building.
 
The atrium floor is covered with European-blue grass. By adding digital technology, the blue floor is turned into a blue screen. A large video wall shows government leaders walking over digitally images visualising Europe in new ways. The bluescreen shows the depth and diversity of the European blue, bringing a new imagination to Europe’s representation.
 
Government leaders walking over the blue floor can see themselves virtually walking over European squares such as Dam or San Marco-square, interactive installations and other content. XML and Bey have invited a number of artists and designers to produce work for this blue screen. The first work for the bluescreen is an interactive European flag with dynamic stars that are positioned based on the movement of people in the atrium. The work is made with graphic designer and artist Alfons Hooikaas.

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European Waterbar

XML and Bey designed a supersized water bar as a new meeting place in main lobby of the building. The bar offers water from 28 water bottles, each filled with water originating from one of the 28 EU member states. The universal element of water combined with the national identity of individual member states contributes to a dialogue about differences between countries and shared identity. Why would you prefer water from your own country? What do you do if the bottle with water from your country is empty?

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Credits

Concept and Design: XML in collaboration with Jurgen Bey
Client: Europe by People, cultural program Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
 
Presidential Chambers
Concept and Design: XML in collaboration with Jurgen Bey
Production custom made furniture: Prooff
Construction company: Maasdam Groep BV

Bluescreen
Concept and Design: XML in collaboration with Jurgen Bey
Artificial grass: KSP Kunstgras
Production artificial grass: Edel Grass, Royal Ten Cate

The blue screen installation will be programmed by multiple artist with the kind support of the Creative Industries Fund NL.

European Waterbar
Concept and Design: XML in collaboration with Jurgen Bey
Construction: Landstra & De Vries
Coolers waterbar: Sipwell