Flanders: Reading Between the Lines

Belgium gathers some of the greatest artists that create the most impressive public art. From giant murals to interesting structures, Belgian public is actively engaged in an active dialogue in public spaces where public art is located.

This ten meter-high church – Doorkijkkerk, or Reading Between the Lines – made of 100 layers of steel palettes is located in Belgian province of Limburg. It represents a church when looked at from the right angle. This see-through chapel merges landscape, heritage, and religion in an art installation that is 90 percent air.

Reading Between the Lines was part of the Z-OUT project by Z33, which aimed to bring art into public spaces. Creators are young Belgian architects Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh.

Europolitan Seven: Brussels City Instagrammers

Our City Instagrammers series showcases the life in cities across Europe. We find some of the most hip city photographers across Europe – from Helsinki and Cologne to Lisbon and Trieste.  Here we profile seven Brussels-based Instagram accounts you have to follow to keep up with what is going on in that mysterious city.  If you follow them, you will learn about cool spots, you will see stunning architecture, and you will get a sense of different sides of Brussels. 


Andreea, a blogger, originally from Romania will make you visit all the places and restaurants that she visited. 


Isabel, a Mexican blogger - turned Slovenian - turned Belgian, just recently arrived to Brussels. In a short time since Isabel arrived to Brussels, she has already made an impact on the Brussels' Instagram scene. 


A curated account, managed by Boro, which aims to connect people with the city since 2014. For your daily dose of Brussels inspiration follow their Instagram account and their micro magazine. You can always inspire the city together. 


Zahra, originally from Vienna, now lives in Brussels and posts great photos of the EU Quarter and beyond. Her photos are colorful and capture the mood. 


This account feeds the unique street styles of Brussels. We often wonder how she manages to catch all those interesting characters that are featured in her account.  


Amadeus was born in France and now studies architecture in Brussels. His photos beautifully capture shades and lines.


Sandy created the first blog that all expats stumble upon. Recently her Instagram feed has been less devoted to Brussels due to her constant foreign adventures; nevertheless, a must see feed for all the beautiful doors around the city and countless tips on savory bites and drinks. 

For more inspiration from Brussels follow Kate @kateinbrussels, who also beautifully captures the city and a good part of the rest of the world. 

Let us know if we missed your favorite Instagram account?  Also, if you are an urban Instagrammer in Europe, tag your photographs with #seemyeurope and we will feature a selection of great city shots on our curated @seemyeurope feed.

Behind the Scenes: the New Europa Building of the European Council

Before the President of the European Council and national delegations move into the new Council building in January 2017, Europolitan Trends had a chance to visit the new Europa building of the Council.

Below we bring you some of the highlights.

The Need for the New

There are a few things that come to mind when you think of the European Council. Namely, the European Council is the EU institution, which steers priorities of the European Union. It consists of the heads of state or government of the EU member states, President of the Council, and the President of the Commission. On the other hand, the Council of the EU or the EU Council is the institution representing the governments of the EU member states. National ministers meet in the EU Council in order to coordinate policies and adopt laws. The European Council and the Council of the European Union have the same seat.

As a consequence of the EU enlargement in 2004, the EU leaders decided to host the summits in Brussels rather than in member states. This decision was largely influenced by the need to save the costs. As a consequence, better facilities in Brussels were needed. After all, the old Justus Lipsius building was not constructed for hosting the summits. Moreover, the new building had to provide necessary levels of security, while reflecting on the concept of sustainability.

At the time when the Council looked into expanding, the Block A of the Residence Palace was available. Residence Palace - a beautiful Art Deco building from the beginning of 1920s - was converted after the Second World War into offices for several Belgian governmental departments. The City of Brussels suggested to the Council to acquire the Block A of the Residence Palace.

The Europa Building

The Europa building consists of the original L-shaped Residence Palace block A, and the glass addition - these now form a brick shaped building. The glass facade consists of a patchwork of restored wooden window frames from various demolition sites from all over EU. This is believed to encourage sustainable development and to promote cultural diversity, while also adding a layer of isolation. On the other hand, the glass facade also supports the EU motto of the ‘united in diversity’ - all windows are different, but similar. Inside this space, a lantern-like sphere has been created. This is where the main meeting rooms are. It is interesting to note that the lantern-shaped sphere served as the inspiration for the current logo of the Council. This atrium feature is the most visible at night when lit by 374 LED tubes. A nice addition into this modern and airy space are different combinations of colored squares on the floors, ceilings, doors and walls. We believe that this gives a space a less serious note and relaxes the visitors.

As of the beginning of 2017 the new building will host EU, multilateral and ministerial summits. However, most of the offices will stay in the old buildings of Justus Lipsius and Lex. The new ‘patchwork’ building forms a unified area with the other two buildings of the Council: Justus Lipsius and Lex.

Construction started in 2011
Artist: Georges Meurant
11 floors above & 3 floors below the ground
3,750 windows in the glass facade
374 LED lights illuminate the lantern
16 meeting rooms
3 conference rooms
250 offices