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European Parliament - Louise Weiss Building

General Information

Official designation: IPE4 (Immeuble du Parlement européen 4)
Beginning of works: 1994
Completion: 14 December 1999
Status: in use

Project Type

Function / usage: Parliament building

Location

Location: , , ,
Connects to: European Parliament Footbridge
Coordinates: 48° 35' 50.99" N    7° 46' 7.43" E
Show coordinates on a map

Technical Information

Dimensions

glazed surface 13 000 m²
number of floors (below ground) 3
gross floor area 220 000 m²
plenary hall seats 785
tower IGH diameter 94 m
height 60 m
number of floors (above ground) 17
gross floor area 76 000 m²

Cost

cost of construction ca. Euro 500 000 000

Description of the Building

The Louise Weiss building (IPE 4) (named after Louise Weiss, a French former member of the parliament), is located in the Wacken district of Strasbourg, south of Schiltigheim, between the 1920s workers' suburban colony (Cité ouvrière) Cité Ungemach and the 1950s buildings of the Strasbourg fair, some of which had to be torn down to make way for the Immeuble du Parlement européen 4, its formal name. Built at a cost of 3.1 billion French francs (470 million euros) at the intersection of the Ill and the Marne-Rhine Canal, it houses the hemicycle for plenary sessions, the largest of any European institution (750 seats – expanded to 785 – for MEPs and 680 for visitors), 18 other assembly rooms as well as a total of 1,133 parliamentary offices. Through a covered footbridge over the Ill, the Louise Weiss communicates with the Winston Churchill and Salvador de Madariaga buildings.

With its surface of 220,000m² and its distinctive 60m tower, it is one of the biggest and most visible buildings of Strasbourg. The Louise Weiss was designed by the Paris-based team of architects Architecture-Studio. The architects were inspired by Roman amphitheaters. After the project was approved at an international contest in 1991, work, commissioned by the Société d'Aménagement et d'Équipement de la Région de Strasbourg on behalf of the Urban Community of Strasbourg, started in May 1995, with up to twelve tower cranes at the time on what was one of the biggest building sites of the decade in Europe. The inauguration of the building took place on 14 December 1999 by French President Jacques Chirac and Parliament President Nicole Fontaine. In internal EP documents, the building is referred to as "LOW".

Tower

The 60m high tower, intentionally left unfinished on one side, carries heavy symbolism, and is often said to have been oriented eastwards, i.e. towards eastern Europe, as by the time of the completion of the building no country from the former Soviet bloc had yet joined the EU. However, the open side of the tower actually faces west. In 2010 Glenn Beck suggested that the tower's design consciously mirrors the Vienna painting of the Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

On 14 January 2009, the European Parliament decided to bestow the name of Bronisław Geremek, a recently deceased member from Poland, on the courtyard inside the tower, calling it the "Bronisław Geremek Agora" (French: Agora Bronisław Geremek). This was officially inaugurated on 21 April 2009.

Hemicycle

Members sit in a hemicycle according to their political groups arranged mainly from left to right, although with the non-attached members towards the back and right of the chamber. All desks are equipped with microphones, headphones for interpretation and electronic voting equipment. The leaders of the groups sit on the front benches at the center, and in the very center is a podium for guest speakers. The remaining segment of the circular chamber is primarily composed of the raised area where the President and staff sit. Behind them, there is an EU flag attached to the wall with national flags in rows each side of it.

Interpretation booths are located behind them and along the sides of the chamber, while public galleries are located above the chamber around the entire perimeter. Further benches are provided between the sides of the raised area and the MEPs; these are taken up by the Council on the far left and the Commission on the far right. The chamber as a whole is of modern design, with the walls entirely composed of lights with large blue chairs for MEPs.

Ceiling collapse

On 7 August 2008, 10% of the ceiling of the plenary chamber collapsed. No one was injured, as Parliament was not meeting at the time (it was in summer recess), though a number of seats were damaged. A first part of the ceiling collapsed at 18.00 CET followed by a second part at 22.36 CET. No extreme weather conditions were reported, and the structure was new, so it was assumed that the false ceiling had a defect. The President's office stated that a third of the ceiling had been affected and that "The preliminary results have revealed that the partial collapse of the ceiling resulted from the breakage of parts holding the suspended ceiling that connects it with the actual structure of the ceiling."

Repair work began immediately, but it became apparent that it could not be repaired in time for the next sitting. Thus, the session starting on 1 September was moved to the Brussels hemicycle. Parliament was expected to move back to Strasbourg for the session starting on 22 September but had to remain in Brussels for that session as well as safety inspections dragged on.

Text taken from the Wikipedia article "Seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg" on 21 May 2019 and modified according to the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license terms.

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Participants

Client
Architecture
Contractor
Glass construction
Subcontractor
Façade construction

Relevant Web Sites

  • About this
    data sheet
  • Structure-ID
    20009457
  • Date created
    23/06/2003
  • Last Update
    21/05/2019