The EU unveiled its futuristic new 321-million-euro headquarters on Wednesday, saying it symbolised ‘joy’ at a time of rising populist anger against Brussels that helped lead to Brexit, The Telegraph reports.
A glass lantern-shaped structure inside a cube made of recycled window frames sourced from across the 28-nation bloc, the Europa building has been dubbed the “Space Egg” because of its otherwordly appearance.
At its heart is a huge room decked out in psychedelic rainbow carpets and ceiling tiles where European Union leaders will hold their summit meetings on the multiple crises that beset the bloc.
But the eco-friendly building has faced criticism for its high cost and delays at a time when cash-strapped EU member states are wrestling with spending cuts and Brussels is trying to cut waste.
The Belgian architect, Philippe Samyn, insists however that his building symbolises all that is best about a union formed in the aftermath of World War II to unify the continent.
“I wanted to make a a joyful meeting place where people entering with a lot of problems can get some breathing space,” the bow-tie wearing Samyn told reporters in the giant 11-storey atrium.
He said the “symbolism of the lamp is fundamental to the story”, adding that he had come up with the idea in the middle of the night after puzzling over how to put a “friendly” circular summit room in a square building.
“I always have a piece of paper by my bed, which bothers my wife, and one night I just woke up and dreamed of this lamp shape, and it has stayed ever since then,” the architect added.
The idea for the 3,750 windows on the facade – a cleaner’s nightmare – is also symbolic, said Samyn, reflecting “diversity” because they have come from around the EU and “unity” because they are recycled.
He added that it was also a “very clear message about transparency in the union: with all that is happening, people don’t realise the good that the European Union is giving to people,” he added.
The headache-inducing decor in the summit rooms is meanwhile a “united patchwork”.