Defence is investing in a new operational headquarters which meets the contemporary requirements in terms of functionality, safety, wellbeing, and sustainability. The Design, Build & Maintain (BDM) contract with a total sum of 499 million euros was awarded to the consortium Be Defence, which is responsible for the design, realisation, and technical maintenance of the infrastructure. The more compact New Headquarters will be located straight across from the NATO Headquarters on a site of 11.4 hectares, partly on the terrain of the old NATO site and partly on the current Queen Elisabeth Quarter.
The Chief of Defence, admiral Hofman, highlights: “Today, the general staff is spread out over a dozen buildings, tomorrow they will occupy only one. More ecological and safer, to better engage the challenges of the future.”
On Friday 23 December 2022, the Council of Ministers gave its accord for the building of a New Headquarters for the staff of Defence in Brussels. The new highly secured site with several buildings shall offer a workspace to almost 4,000 staff of Defence. The main building itself will be mainly an office with 2,800 spots where all services of the Staff of Defence, General Service Intelligence and Safety (ADIV), and the Cyber Command will be housed. The offices will be designed according to the principles of the New Way of Working (NWOW). The surroundings shall give an extra impulse to the collaboration between the several departments.
All military operations are led from the main building. Furthermore, all functions for the personnel are provided such as a company restaurant, a zone for inside sports, changing rooms, and showers. A lot of attention is paid to the wellbeing of the personnel with adapted thermic comfort, good air quality, acoustic comfort, and sufficient daylight in the office spaces.
Modern conference centre
A publicly accessible conference centre is planned at the Boulevard Leopold III. This centre contains one large conference room with a capacity of 300 people and several smaller meeting rooms. A separate building with a day-care and the office space for the Central Service for Social and Cultural Action of Defence will be built as well.
This project puts a clear emphasis on sustainability in all aspects.
The building will be nearly energy neutral (Nearly Zero Energy Building, NZEB) and no fossil fuels will be used for normal functioning. The energy transition to a carbon neutral and sustainable infrastructure, in accordance with the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) is made possible by: a performant thermic isolation, the use of renewable energy sources such as soil energy storage, photovoltaic panels, and heat pumps.
Other sustainability aspects such as the use of sustainable materials, the reuse of rainwater and the reuse of demolition materials for building materials are included in the design as well. The landscaping design shall improve the local biodiversity considerably.
Development of the entire site
Permit applications will be submitted during 2023. The start of the works is scheduled for the end of 2024 and most of it will be ready for use by the end of 2027.
The Be Defence grouping consists of the contractors BAM, Jan De Nul, Eiffage en Cegelec,the architects Assar Architects, ArtBuild and ANMA, and the engineering firm VK Architects+Engineering. The project carried out by Belgian companies generates a significant social return, primarily through job creation.
The grouping Be Defence commented: “We are particularly proud to have won this leading project. Together with our construction partners, we are already looking forward to realising this new landmark in Brussels.”
The 92-hectare global site; the Queen Elisabeth Quarter and former NATO Headquarters, is currently the subject of an urban development by the Brussels Capital Region and the Flemish Region, with a built-up area in the northern part of the site, along Boulevard Leopold III, and a green zone in the south of the site.
* Initial investment and 2 years’ maintenance, renewable for a further 8 years
Picture credits: Be Defence