The EPO's new building in The Hague is the Office's largest single investment in its history in the Netherlands. Financed entirely from the EPO's own means, the building was designed by renowned architects Ateliers Jean Nouvel of Paris and Dam & Partners Architecten of Amsterdam. The glass-and-steel structure replaces the ageing original tower that hosted EPO staff for 40 years.
Rijswijk has historical significance for the EPO, as the Office is the largest international organisation in the Netherlands. Its predecessor, the International Patents Institute (IIB), was set up here in 1947 as the first European organisation related to patents, and in 1978 was integrated into the current Office.
Construction began four years ago and 2018 saw the dawn of a new era for the Office: The building was inaugurated in the presence of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in June, and later in autumn staff began moving in. Some 2 000 employees now work in the 85 000 square metre tower that features an open and transparent layout, with a mix of standard offices and shared work spaces.
The European patent grant process requires a modern technical infrastructure - one that the new office delivers. The building brings examiners, lawyers and support teams together on one site and so fosters greater synergies among EPO departments. Inventors and their legal representatives, too, benefit as the state-of-the-art facility will host oral proceedings related to treatment of European patent applications.
The building's design is inspired by innovation and the requirement of sustainability. The brief stipulated that the new building should be 20% more energy-efficient than limits set by the Netherlands as part of its commitment to meeting EU legislation. Therefore, the new office combines modern architecture with responsible urban planning in order to minimise environmental impact. It is regenerative in the areas of air, light, and temperature, featuring photovoltaic solar panels and an aquifer thermal energy storage system.
The new building provides a state-of-the-art workspace that is sustainable, gives staff a sense of pride, symbolises the EPO's commitment to innovation in Europe, and underlines its close ties with the Netherlands.
Visitors may be struck by several distinct features: the 300 varieties of lush plants in hanging gardens that extend across the length and height of the building; the glass facade that mirrors the surrounding area; or the fact that the 107 metre high, 150 metre long tower is just 24.7 metres wide. It will finally come to stand in the middle of vast pond with a surface area of 16 275 square metres, reflecting the surrounding landscape.
Though the project has not yet entered the final phase, the building has already caught the eye of the international design world. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat nominated as candidate for the "Best Tall Building" in the 100-199 metres category at the CTBUH 2019 Awards Program.