Court of Justice of the European Communities / Dominique Perrault

© Georges Fessy

Architects: Dominique Perrault Architecture
Location: Kirchberg platform, Grand Duché du
Associated Architects: Bureau CJ4 ( Architecte, Paczowski & Fritsch, M3 architectes)
Site Area: 76,000 sqm
Built Area: 100,000 sqm
Completion: 2008
Photographs: Georges Fessy

Invited to create a new extension and to triple the Court’s capacity from 50,000 sq metres (538,195 sq ft) to 150,000 sq metres (1.6 million sq ft), Perrault’s challenge was not only to increase space but also to give harmony to a building that had already been extended three times. First inaugurated in 1973, when the European Community included only six member countries, the Court of Justice was extended in 1988, 1993 and 1994. As Perrault saw it, the scheme’s challenge was threefold: functional, urban and institutional.

© Georges Fessy

First, the Court required an additional 100,000 sq metres (1.08 million sq ft) to house more than 2,000 judges, clerks and translators. Second, successive expansions, with sometimes contradictory designs needed to be rationalized and brought together to function as a whole. It was therefore not only necessary to create extra space but to unify the whole, creating a building that would seem more like an harmonious “injection” than a fourth extension. Third, Perrault’s scheme sought to reinforce the symbolic importance of the prestigious institution.

Masterplan Scheme

The original building, made of corten steel, is hollowed out, to accommodate the courtrooms, which is encircled by a perfectly orthogonal ring hosting offices, chambers for the judges, advocate generals, and the Great Hall of justice.

© Georges Fessy

On the lower level of this major body, the “grande galerie” is reorganized and extended, serving as a spinal cord, to provide circulation between the different extensions as well as to the two new towers, which provide office space for more than 600 translators and legal officers working in 23 languages. With a height of 100 metres each, the new towers are now the tallest in Luxembourg.

© Georges Fessy

The vast space to the north, designed to be discreet, creates a major access across a large porch to the entrance hall and to the meeting rooms.

Plan

In the basement, the courtroom’s ceiling is dressed with lights encircled in an anodized gold- tinted aluminium mesh, giving the chamber a majestic and authoritative atmosphere while also providing a lyrical and poetic feel.

The material qualities of the anodized gold-tinted aluminium mesh are a major component of the new unity introduced in the different extensions. It has been employed throughout the project, for the sun-shades of the two towers, as a screen for the judges’ chambers, as well as on the ceiling of the main courtroom. The rhythm of the metallic mesh, the dazzling texture, and the relief of its folds bestow a genuine visual identity to the 76,000 sq metre (818,057 sq ft) plot area.

© Georges Fessy

With Perrault’s scheme, the Court is endowed with a main courtroom, four smaller courtrooms, offices of the presidency, the members and the court registry office, translators’ offices (24,000 sq metres in two new towers – equivalent of 258,333 sq ft), library, restaurants, lounges, banks, parking garage and an esplanade of 23,000 sq metres (247,570 sq ft). The total built area is 100,000 sq metres (1,07 million sq ft).

Section

In addition, since 2004, Perrault’s firm has been engaged to conduct an urban planning project, including landscape architecture, circulation, transport and a mixed-use program for the development of the entrance to the Kirchberg plateau. The aim is to give a more urban look and feel to the Porte de l’Europe by creating a better relationship between the different elements of the district and its various users. The work is to be completed in 2020.

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Cite: "Court of Justice of the European Communities / Dominique Perrault" 11 Apr 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 31 Jul 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=223730>

3 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    You should qsk the users about how NOT USER FRIENDLY these buildings are….
    In the towers we feel like chicken behind bars with very low natural light and luxembourg is already dark grey enough….
    Also the architect prohibited the use of trees near the building. Awkwardly no photo shows the huge black-grey desertic “parvis”…

    The European Investment Bank just cross the street is fantastic compared to what our architect did….

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