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LOCATION / Brussels, Belgium

CLIENT / Parlement de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale

AREA / 15 000 sqm above ground 

PROGRAM / Hemicycle, meeting rooms, offices, and reception rooms

PROJECT / 1996 - 1997

STATUS / Built 2000

The restoration of the old Palais Provincial du Brabant is a part of the historic continuity of the building which, from the 17th century to the early 20th century, underwent numerous alterations, each bearing witness to the architectural context of its period of construction. A2RC ARCHITECTS proposed raising the most recent neoclassical section, to install the main element of the program: the hemicycle. It is a construction made from glass and steel, simple materials with a lightweight appearance, which were chosen to symbolise the openness and transparency of the Brussels Parliament to its citizens. It was intended as a strong new expression of democracy, to offer itself to the city and be, literally and figuratively, a reflection of that city.  The institution shows itself to the city, while also looking outward, via carefully framed views, particularly in the object-wall made of pear wood facing the city, a symbolic representation of the hemicycle. The new building is set back from the street in order to retain the original legibility of the building and to enable gradual reading of the various styles which constitute it. The new architecture enters into a harmonious dialogue with its visual and structural base. The interior of the building has been entirely renovated to enable, on the one hand, the creation of committee rooms, which are all in the new wing and open to the public and, on the other hand, the installation of the administrative services, the registry, the Members of Parliament’s offices and reception salons (which cover an area of 12,000 square metres). The existing hemicycle was converted into a reading room and cafeteria for the MPs — the other decision-making centre of this institution. Eleven artists were involved with the architects in the various parts of the building to express their own individual perception of the city of Brussels, democracy, and the Parliament itself.

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