Studio An Fonteyne

Leonie Müller

A Loft

Manifesto of the European’s Citizens House

The tour du Sablon was once built as the incorporation of the rational structure of Europe’s Administration. It was put into the space of former Maison du Peuple which was a very important social institution more than 100 years ago. But the new building of the sixties was not at all trying to replace its meaning to the people of Brussels.

Instead, a rather unfeasible garage was put in the untameable base structure. Without any sense for the surrounding, a tower with two elevator cores is positioned along the north-south axis. In a rather rigid manner, the stone cladding steps back of the city’s attention. It’s beige colour reminds one of the anonymous suits that the eurocrats wear who work in the commission.

But times have changed.

In search of one strong image of Europe we see ourselves confronted with questions of high complexity. What exactly is Europe? Is it defined by geographical, political or social borders? Who are the people living here? What are their needs, their fears, their ideas? And who are we excluding when we talk about Europe?

In order to find answers to these questions we apply the street as the main tool. The network of the European Roads is connecting not only the countries of the European Union but all the countries on the continent and even places of the middle east and Asia, like the E40, which goes from Calais to Kazakhstan. The new European Road E1000 starting at the Place Emile Van de Velde is not only leading people from one place to another, but evolves into the third dimension. This street works as a meeting space, communication platform, panorama stage, playground and balcony.

On the ground floor the street arises out of the round Agora and leads you past the European Market which offers independent providers to sell their goods at low rent. You walk towards the tower where the street starts to wrap around the tower. Sometimes steep and exhausting, sometimes unnoticeably increasing, you pass by various entrances to auditoriums, exhibition spaces and a library. You hear someone playing the piano mixed with the sound of an orchestra. A group of people is smoking a cigarette in front of an artists workshop, discussing in a language which sounds strange to you. You keep going upwards and after 40 minutes, the Road E1000 leads you to the rooftop. You loosen your muscles, lean against the bannister, take a deep breath and look over the city and you think:

(Is this Europe?) Is this Europe. This is Europe.

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