by Marion Lust Willocx
Master Dissertation 2021/2022 “Constructing Ecosystems”
Faculty of Architecture
Sint-Lucas Brussels Campus, KU Leuven
Prof. Dr. Jan Wurm”
by Marion Lust Willocx
In February 2022, the IPCC released its sixth report stating that global warming has increased by 1,09°C with water shortages leading to extreme heat conditions, threatening around 29% of terrestrial animals to extinction. Due to globalization, more people are migrating to northern countries leading to a growing need for housing, threatening natural habitats and biodiversity and increasing carbon emission. The Parliament building needs to shape and represent values and believes to initiate change and regeneration of our ecosystems.
Within the context of socio-political situation Europe, citizens and politicians need to adapt, meaning to «change continuously over time to be able to continue to exist in a particular environment». With the urban ecosystem of Brussels, the building with its flowing open ground floor space is link between the Leopold Park and the European district of the city.
The project connects the park with the city, removing the barrier that the Paul-Henry Spaak building is currently creating. The building opens up its ground floor to the public, while the reduction of the building volume makes it less imposing. The atria of the building relate the pubic basis with the roof terraces, providing daylight and water to the floating ground. People, light and nature are converging underneath the administrative functions, allowing direct interaction with the hemicycle, which is dropped to the ground floor. This exposure places law makers in the center of the negotiation between natural and urban ecosystems, to be the voice for all life on planet and develop trajectories for a regenerative adaptation of society.
The terraced roof replaces the sharp edge facing the park. A dialogue between the building and the park is formed as the Parliament opens up to the neighborhood offering an accessible terrace extending natural vegetation to the roof. A sculptural ramp connects the visitors with the entrance of the building. This walk slows down the pace of the law maker, creating relations with the urban context and the surrounding of the building before entering the workplace serving democracy.
Leopold Park transforms to the common ground for decision making. The qualities of a regenerative economy, sustainable and affordable housing and biodiversity as a basis for all life are displayed and can be experienced when moving through the promenade.
The materiality of the building demonstrates the interconnectivities between the build and the living. For example the seashell concrete of the ground floor pavements is porous and stores up to 500 liters per minute per square meter to make the building mass an active environmental agent and create a positive micro-climate. Façade and fit-out elements are made of hemp fiber composites with good durability, thermal and acoustic insulation and fire performance, harvested from the rapid growing plant that regenerates the soil during cultivation. To optimize passive and active use of daylight, windows and PV panels are positioned along the façade following the azimuth inclination of the sun path, making the building shape and orientation adapt to the environmental context.