A dramatic, slimline glass block forms the new building for the European Patent Office (EPO) in Rijswijk near The Hague. Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Paris and Dam & Partners Architecten, Amsterdam collaborated to design the new building that rises from the flat landscape of the Netherlands.
With a total area of 85,000 m2, the main building offers work spaces for around 2,000 employees. The soaring building uses 10,000 tonnes of steel, making it one of the largest steel structures ever built in the Netherlands. Behind the main building, a four-storey connecting structure forms the main area for meeting rooms and for patent proceedings.
The choice of steel was made because of the need for fast and efficient construction and the fact that steel offered more flexibility in terms of space planning than concrete.
Six steel frame structures form the main slender building profile measuring 107 m tall, 150 m long and 24.7 m wide, measured from façade to façade. For all exposed steel components in outdoor areas, hot dip galvanized steel was used for corrosion protection.
The slender profile of the 27-storey structure in combination with its 960 glass panels enhances the buildingtranslucence and almost makes it seem as if it is floating above its surroundings. In the cavity between the inner and outer façade, which also serves as a climate buffer and meets important requirements for sustainable energy management, there are hanging gardens with 198 planter boxes containing 300 plant species. Fed by rain pipes and a computerised water control system.
The architects consider these living plants as part of the architectural components of the building. A glass-roofed roof garden that is partially accessible to all employees and partially covered with solar cells is another element of the greening and sustainability concept.
In addition to the use of renewable energy for the main power supply, rainwater is used as a supplement to the conventional water supply for toilets and irrigation systems. With its large glass surfaces, the building relies on maximum use of natural light and natural air conditioning.
Guaranteeing an abundance of fresh air for each office, throughout the building. Galvanizing was chosen not only as a corrosion protection system for all exposed steelwork, but also for its sustainability criteria – reuse, regalvanize and recyclability of the steelwork. The project complies with the requirements of the Dutch sustainability system BREEAMNL and the German Sustainable Building Assessment System (BNB).