May 28, 2004
The new EU Parliament building in Brussels

All the effort in this posting went into the interminable process of organising all these pretty little pictures. So don't expect literature. Don't expect all that much in the way of coherence.

Anyway, what they are is the new EUroParliament building in Brussels. I was there however many weeks ago it was, and took a stack of photos of it.

It is very impressive I think, and if you disapprove of what goes on inside the thing as much as I do, very scary.

But photographing it is hard, if you don't have a very wide angle lens (as I don't), like trying to photograph an elephant in a crowd. All the other buildings near it are too close for you to be able to get the big picture. Behind the thing, there is a big park, but it slopes away downwards, and again, you can't see everything, just the bit at the back.

So before I tell you about my snaps, here is an aerial view of the thing, which gives you an idea of its entire scope.


There's the Parliament thing in middle at the back, the oval shape. And then on each side, in front and taller, are two huge slabs of Office, two Walls of Bureaucracy. No good can come of this place, it seems to me.

My first lot of pictures were taken at the front, some in the square on the Central Brussels side of the thing, and some nearer to the beast itself.

Click on these little squares to get the big picture of which the square is a detail.

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They are still building it, and the last one is of the railway station entrance for what I think will be another railway.

The next few are of the central Oval, the Parliament building itself, which is particularly well designed, I think, at any rate in terms of how it looks from outside. Everything about this building says: Money No Object. We Are The Bosses. You Cannot Defy Us. Which is entirely deliberate, and goodness knows what this thing did in fact cost. But as I say, I'm sure that they wanted an expensive building, that looked expensive, and was expensive. This is not a building to save money. It is a building to rule. That is Micklethwait's Alternative Theory of why public sector building always costs far more than was originally "planned". It's deliberate.

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Now some looks at the back of the huge offices. The bridge in the third of these next pictures joins the offices and the main building, I think.

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These next ones are near the heart of the beast. The sign is as near as I actually went to venturing inside. I should have. At the time I just really, really didn't want to, and didn't. The green picture was taken pearing into the inside through a green window.

parl5detail.jpg     parl17detail.jpg     parlgreendetail.jpg     parlsigndetail.jpg

And now I am round the back, in the big park, part of which got swallowed up by this vast new erection. From behind, it feels more like Glyndebourne, or some such place, rather than the fuck-you fuck-Brussels fuck-the-World object it looks like from the front.

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I just hope that one of the not-so-well-known Parkinson's Laws applies, and that the EUropean Parliament, having constructed itself a magnificent new purpose built headquarters, will never again be such a force in the affairs of men as it has been, and that the EU itself will now disintegrate. I wish. It is actually quite possible that the relative importance of this Parliament is actually about to decline, within the EU as a whole, the real business of which will continue to be run from anonymous office blocks that do not flaunt themselves nearly as much as this place does.

And I wish doing postings like this was not such a labour. Hope you like the photos. But the point is not actually the photos; it's what they're of.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:08 AM
Category: ArchitecturePhotography