Located at the former EXPO ´92 Sevilla site, in Isla de la Cartuja, Big Design has won a global competition to design a new 9900 m2 building for the European Commission, that ties into the City of Sevilla’s goal to become a global benchmark for sustainability by 2025.
The Joint Research Centre (the JRC) in Sevilla reflects the local vision of the eCitySevilla project to decarbonize and transition Isla de la Cartuja to 100% renewable energy sources. The building will house 12 research units and supporting functions as well as public and private outdoor spaces.
BIG Design spokesman Bjarke Ingels said that their design for the JRC, more than anything, will allow the sustainable performance of the building to drive an architectural aesthetic that not only makes the building perform better but also makes it more inhabitable and more beautiful – “a new Andalusian environmental vernacular”.
“Having started my studies as an architect in Andalusia and later returning to ETSAB in Barcelona, to now having a 50–person BIG office in Barcelona, this project feels like coming full circle,” he said.
The new building ties into the City of Seville’s goal to become a global benchmark for sustainability by 2025 and the local vision to decarbonise and transition Isla de la Cartuja to 100% renewable energy.
Designed by the studio of the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels (BIG), the project will cover the entire JRC site with a cloud of solar canopies, sheltering the plaza, garden, and research building underneath, just like the ‘pergolas’ – shaded passageways – that are typical in Seville.
The canopies consist of square lightweight photovoltaic sheets, supported by a forest of slender columns. The roofscape will cascade down from the centre of the site to head height at its periphery, creating a variety of public spaces underneath.
Announcing the winner, JRC Director-General Stephen Quest said: “We are extremely excited to announce this incredible design for the new JRC site in Seville, as we launch the New European Bauhaus Lab. The ‘NEB Lab’ aims to create enabling conditions for the green transition and drive tangible transformation on the ground.
“The new building for the JRC Seville site is the ideal opportunity for us to ‘walk the talk’. The future building will be one of the first examples of architecture entirely inspired by the values of the New European Bauhaus of sustainability, aesthetics and inclusion,” he said.
The JRC site will host public and private outdoor spaces and will house over 400 international scientific and support staff. Their work focuses on socio-economic and technological support to key European policies, such as the European Green Deal, digital transformation and an economy fit for all.
The building’s public spaces will be open to citizens and local activities.
The European Commission will now negotiate a contract with BIG to draft a full project proposal. The final decision on the project will then be taken by the European Commission and — ultimately — by the budgetary authority of the European Union (including the European Parliament and the Council of the EU). In the event of a positive success of the decision-making process, construction works could tentatively start in 2024.