Work has begun on the Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) designed NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The stunning €460m headquarters will replace the “temporary” buildings have been in use since 1967. SOM was awarded the contract back in 2003 but it took seven years for construction to begin.
SOM made a strong post-modern expression of solidarity in the form of the Headquarters, and infused the strength of design with a sense of inter-transparency in the incorporation of exterior glass facades and the heavy use of transparent interior materials.
SOM says of their design, “Like fingers interlaced in a symbolic clasp of unity and mutual interdependence, the design for this international treaty organization headquarters represents its changing mission from opposition and prevention to unification and integration”.
The NATO Secretary General sees the design as a desperately needed sign of permanence for NATO, saying “In an unpredictable world, NATO is here to stay. And NATO will stay here in Brussels.”
As a sign of commitment to world sustainability, NATO wanted the new Headquarters be environmentally friendly in design and operation. Green roofs are laid out on top of facilities lying between the “fingers” of the Headquarters. They will also recycle resources by cogeneration and collecting rain water. Hot water will be heated by solar energy and passive solar shading will reduce heating and cooling costs.
As it is their first real permanent headquarters and as their meeting place of nations, NATO kept heavy emphasis on establishing a comfortable and efficient workplace to bring together both workers and nations in one space.