Construction work on the new EUROCONTROL Network Manager’s operations centre in Brussels has officially commenced with a ‘breaking ground’ event attended today by EUROCONTROL Director General Eamonn Brennan, the Mayor of the City of Brussels Philippe Close and the Brussels Commissioner for Europe and Intergovernmental Organisations Alain Hutchinson.
The €20.5 million building is set to host state-of-the-art operational systems and IT infrastructure as the organisation embarks on its integrated Network Management (iNM) digital transformation programme. iNM is designed to ensure that EUROCONTROL, as the manager of the European aviation network and European Critical Infrastructure, continues to meet the needs of operational stakeholders, digitising and modernising the way air traffic is managed over Europe.
“With up to 35,000 flights a day expected in the coming decade across a network spanning 43 States, this new building will play a key role in helping EUROCONTROL modernise the way we manage capacity. reduce delays and minimise environmental impacts. Our new building will become the home of state-of-the-art digital solutions to optimise air traffic operations and will render the management of the European network resilient, reliable and sustainable in the decades to come,” said Eamonn Brennan, EUROCONTROL Director General.
CERAU Architecture and Urbanism are responsible for the striking architectural design, with technical support from Bureau Greisch, while Brussels-based company Louis De Waele has been entrusted with the construction.
The new 6, 000 m² building will contain EUROCONTROL’s new operations room, work stations, a visitors’ gallery and conference rooms including cutting-edge systems for crisis management, online and hybrid conferences, and security.
The construction and design of the new operations centre put leading sustainability assessment methods for new buildings at their core, with EUROCONTROL aiming to receive the highest ecological certification and reduce its carbon footprint by taking advantage of sustainable building materials such as wood, the use of solar panels, and high-quality insulation.
“This new operational centre is a technologically advanced building ensuring the safety and security of operational functions, ensuring staff wellbeing and minimising environmental impacts. The study of the facades was a real challenge for us. We had to combine the energy performance of the walls with electrochromic glazing, an optimal sound insulation and the level of safety expected from a building classified as ”sensitive” at European level.
In addition to the energy-efficient performance of the outer walls, the roofs will be greened and will accommodate more than 600 photovoltaic panels. The landscaped surroundings, in addition to the greenery that they constitute, will host a rainwater management system which will include, in addition to a cistern, an open storm basin and infiltration d//cfies. Biodiversity will be encouraged by the planting of native and pollinating plants which will complement the hives already present on the site.
This building will benefit from an “excellent” BREEAM label, the equivalent of the French HQE (Haute Qualité Environnementale) certification,” said Rémy Rascol, architect and Director, CERAU Architecture and Urbanism
”Les Entreprises Louis De Waele are honoured to contribute to the construction of the new EUROCONTROL Operations Centre.
The technical complexity of the structure and the facades, the construction of a new building on an occupied site and a short deadline are all challenges that we will tackle enthusiastically in close collaboration with the client and the Design team.
All together, we are committed to delivering a building that meets EUROCONTROL’s requirements and which enables them to meet the challenges of tomorrow,“ said Stéphane Dieleman, CEO, Entreprises Louis De Waele
The mayor of Brussels Philippe Close expressed satisfaction that an international organisation such as Eurocontrol kept faith in the city of Brussels for its planned expansion. He was joined by Alain Hutchinson, Brussels Commissioner for Europe and Intergovernmental Organisations.
After the speeches, the participants went outside to the site of the future Operations Centre for the breaking ground ceremony, followed by a reception where delicious Belgian chocolates accompanied the drinks.
EUROCONTROL’s new operations centre will become the physical part of the digital transformation of its core legacy systems, which have successfully ensured air traffic flow and capacity management for over 25 years. The increased number of airspace users, the large exchange of data, and the need for a more dynamic management of airspace and cross-border operations require a significantly higher amount of data to be processed and stored. Scalability — the ability of the system to flexibly and quickly adapt to varying traffic demand in the safest, most sustainable and efficient manner — is a key requirement for the future operational system of the EUROCONTROL Network Manager (NM).
The new operations centre will accommodate future digital solutions for the Network Manager’s operations, which initially will run in parallel with EUROCONTROL’s legacy system. It is expected that the new operations centre will be ready by the third quarter of 2023, in time to host the first iNM digital products leading to operational deliverables due in winter 2023/2024. The evolution of the system will continue in incremental steps over the next ten years aiming to deliver customer-centric services for operational stakeholders.