EPO New Main




European Patent Office






Offices, Commercial

Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Photos: Ronald Tilleman for EPO, Ossip van Duivenbode for EPO (homepage)

EPO New Main

The ‘New Main’, the new main office building of the European Patent Office (EPO), was designed in cooperation with Ateliers Jean Nouvel. The slim yet monumental glass block, which rises up from the flat landscape, provides the EPO with workspaces, common space for employees and meeting rooms for patent proceedings. The decision to construct a new building was the result of a firm resolution to provide EPO staff with a workplace that would be a real landmark of high quality, a sustainable, innovative building, enabling the EPO to continue their mission of supporting innovation in Europe in much improved working conditions.

The EPO site in The Hague represents the characteristic polder, the poetics of the location arising from the vastness of this strictly horizontal stretch of land. The design draws upon the flat landscape and the history of the Netherlands as a country of port cities. Measuring 107m in height, 156m in length, yet just 24.7m in width, the EPO building lines up with the existing architecture and takes on the appearance of a ship on the water, with the horizontality of a sea turned to stone. The slender shape of the 27-storey building allows the light to pass through, inducing a sense of transparency. The double-glazed coated façade, existing of 960 glass elements, mirrors the sky, land and water. A flat pool of water adorns each long-side of the façade, reflecting the building up upon itself.

The New Main is the largest steel structure ever constructed in the Netherlands. It occupies 85.000 square metres and has working spaces for 1.950 staff. One of the EPO’s requirements was that the designers create an open, transparent building with a mix of both standard offices and shared spaces to ensure that conditions provided new ways of co-operation and space management.

The building has several unique features representing elements that appear in nature, including a roof garden which is partly covered with solar panels. Across the length and height of the building, 300 varieties plants can be found. Dark, rough and compact plants at ground level give way to airier, finer and lighter ones higher up.

The project was built under criteria set by BREEAM-NL (Netherlands) and BNB (Germany), internationally high standards for ecological responsibility, energy efficiency, and sustainability.

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