27 June 2018
The European Patent Office (EPO) today inaugurated the new main building on its site in Rijswijk, near The Hague, in the presence of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands during a ceremony hosted by EPO President Benoît Battistelli. Designed by renowned architects Ateliers Jean Nouvel (Paris) and Dam & Partners Architecten (Amsterdam), the landmark building unites bold contemporary architecture with a modern, sophisticated infrastructure. It has been constructed by a Dutch consortium from the Group TBI, composed of the companies J.P. van Eesteren and Croonwolter&dros.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by some 350 local and international guests, among them members of the diplomatic corps, the 38 EPO member states, international institutions and high-level representatives from local and national institutions and authorities. In a symbolic act to mark the opening of the premises, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands signed the golden guest book of the EPO.
Financed entirely from the EPO's own resources and built in four years, the new building represents the organisation's largest single investment in the Netherlands in its 40-year history. It is the hallmark of the EPO's Dutch site which currently employs almost 3 000 members of staff, making it the largest international organisation domiciled in the Netherlands.
"This building embodies the EPO's dedication to innovation for the benefit of the citizens of Europe and the competitiveness of the European economy. The work of Jean Nouvel and Diederik Dam creates an impressive landmark in the local skyline, and comes as a boost to the economy of The Hague region. It is also representative of our commitment to the EPO's long-standing relations with the Netherlands", said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "This outstanding building offers an environmentally sustainable workplace for our staff here, and is a credit to all those who have worked hard to bring it to fruition. It is our conviction that the new office will also usher in a new era for our employees in the Netherlands, and the users of the European patent system as part of our efforts to modernise the EPO to provide state of the art services at an ever higher quality."
The new building replaces the current tower that was opened in 1973 and hosted the offices of most of the EPO's staff in Rijswijk, and the EPO's forerunner organisation, the International Patent Institute (Institut International des Brevets - IIB). Measuring 107 metres in height, 156 metres in length, and 24.7metres in width, the creation of Jean Nouvel and Diederik Dam is elegant, slim and transparent, with a facade that reflects the sky and blends seamlessly into the Dutch countryside.
Commenting on the inauguration, architect Jean Nouvel said: "I'm delighted to see the completion of the New Main, a building that was created with a shared common vision for innovation. Despite the challenges of constructing a building of this size, today we stand before you in The Hague with this goal achieved, thanks to the amazing efforts of our teams".
Architect Diederik Dam added "Our mission for the New Main was to combine modern architecture and environmental sustainability. Four years after we laid the first stone, I am honoured to see this building become a reality. Every detail of the new building has been taken into account in terms of energy efficient technologies to reuse resources and reduce consumption. In fact, we considered natural components such as plants, water, and light as essentials".
The building has many special features: It has a double glass facade that plays an essential part of the building's climate concept and houses hanging gardens containing 300 different varieties of plants. Vast arrays of photovoltaic solar panels on the roof sky garden provide/serve as a source of renewable electric energy to the main power supply to be distributed throughout the building, and an aquifer thermal energy storage system will reduce primary energy consumption and related CO2 emissions.
The building provides workspace for some 2 000 staff and is equipped with the necessary facilities to host the entire state-of-the-art technical infrastructure needed to implement the European patent grant process. Among those to benefit from this new structure are the inventors and their legal representatives/patent attorneys attending oral proceedings before the EPO related to the examination of their patent applications. On average, up to around 3 000 such proceedings are held every year.
The construction forms a part of the EPO's comprehensive set of reforms initiated in 2010 to prepare the Office for the challenges of tomorrow: Over the past decade, both the demand for Europe-wide patent protection and the demand for services of the EPO have increased strongly, requiring an internal reorganisation that is also reflected in the EPO's policy of modernising its buildings. The New Main enables the EPO to utilise greater synergies between its operational units at its Rijswijk site by housing them across three interconnected buildings and deliver better services to the EPO's users. With landscaping work to take place after the dismantling of the old tower, the overall renewal of the site is expected to be completed in 2020.