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50th Anniversary Event: International Online Conference on Architecture and the Institutions of the European Union

Venue: Online

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This two-day conference is part of the Birkbeck Politics series of events celebrating the department’s 50th anniversary.


How does architecture relate to the buildings that house the main institutions of the European Union?  What, if anything, do these buildings tell us about the position and functions of these institutions within the EU’s political system?  The purpose of this conference is to bring together distinct groups of people from the world of academia and praxis, i.e.

a) architects who designed or were responsible for the renovation of the main buildings that house the core institutions of the European Union - European Commission, European Parliament, European Council (Justus Lipsius and Europa), European Central Bank and Court of Justice of the EU -

b) EU officials who have commissioned this work or were involved in its management on behalf of these institutions;

c) officials who work inside these buildings (‘users’) and

d) political scientists who study the actual operation of these institutions

to discuss the peculiarities and challenges posed by the making and use of these buildings.


In particular, questions that will be discussed include the following:


i) What were the main issues that an architect who designs a building like, for example Europa, or the European Parliament’s buildings in Brussels or Strasbourg, face? How do concepts, norms, principles that shape democratic political life affect the decisions of architects and engineers and those who employ them?

ii) How, if at all, does the ‘supranational’ nature of each of these institutions affect the choices made by the architects of these buildings and those who commission them? 

iii) How, if at all, do each institution’s functions (legislative, executive, judicial) inform the choices made by those involved in the making of these buildings? How are the choice of materials, size, design, etc. affected by the purpose and history of the institution that it will host?

Access is free and registration is required.


The conference is organised by Birkbeck’s Jean Monnet Chair in Parliamentary Democracy and European Integration and is supported by the EU’s Erasmus+ programme.


Programme of Events


Monday 27th June 2022


27 June, 5.30-7:30 p.m. UK time (6.30-8:30 p.m. CET)

Introduction and chair: Dr Dionyssis G. DIMITRAKOPOULOS (Jean Monnet Chair, Birkbeck)


Tuesday 28th June 2022


28 June, 1.30 – 2.45 p.m. UK time (2.30-3.45 p.m. CET)

The buildings of the European Central Bank and the Court of Justice of the EU

Chair: Prof. Sophia PSARRA (University College London)

28 June, 3-4.30 p.m. UK time (4-5.30 p.m. CET)

The buildings of the Council and the European Council (Justus Lipsius and Europa)

28 June, 5-8 p.m. UK time (6-9 p.m. CET)

The buildings of the European Commission and the European Parliament

Chair: Dr Dionyssis G. DIMITRAKOPOULOS (Jean Monnet Chair, Birkbeck)

  • Mr Francis JACOBS (University College Dublin, and formerly EP Secretariat official)
  • Mr Marc BECQUET (Head of Service, Office for Infrastructure and Logistics in Brussels, European Commission)
  • Ms Leena Maria LINNUS (Director-General for Infrastructure and Logistics, European Parliament)
  • Mr Rainer WIELAND MEP (EP Vice President for buildings)


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