Parliament for the German-Speaking Community

Eupen, BE, 2010
Martin Hättasch (Design Team) with
Atelier Kempe Thill - Architects and Planners, Rotterdam, NL

The Belgian German-Speaking Community has its roots in the annexation of the formerly German territories of Eupen-Malmedy after WWI. A number of large-scale reforms have since the 1960’s given increased autonomy and self-governance to the community. Since 1984 the community has had its own government as well as parliament with legislative powers. The project gives - for the first time - a permanent home to the Parliament of the German-Speaking community. An expansion of an existing sanatorium building (to be adapted for administrative functions), the design attempts to negotiate two conflicting desires: to give adequate institutional expression to the Parliament while at the same time respecting the existing historic structure. To meet these demands, the debating chamber is conceived as an annex to the building that is connected below grade, yet develops its own identity as it opens up towards the surrounding park. Taking advantage of the existing topography, it merges with the landscape to form a ‘plinth’ for the historic building. At the same time object and part of the landscape, the entire annex is clad in a seamless vegetal layer (green facade/green roof), whose distinct planting pattern makes it hover between being read as part of the landscape on the one and as an autonomous object on the other hand.

Text and Drawings: Atelier Kempe Thill; Photography: © Ulrich Schwarz, Berlin

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