NATO Headquarters

NATO Headquarters
NATO Headquarters
NATO Headquarters

The design for the 41-hectare NATO campus on the outskirts of Brussels evokes fingers interlaced in a symbolic clasp of unity — an apt symbol given NATO’s changing mission from opposition and prevention to unification and integration.

Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2017
  • Design Finish Year 2008
  • Size Site Area: 41 hectares Building Height: 33.50 meters Number of Stories: 7 Building Gross Area: 250,000
  • Collaborators
    Gleeds International Ltd Tricon Foodservice Consultants Assar Taylor, Lieberfeld & Heldman, Inc. Vk Engineering Gleeds Ingenieurs Associes Wirtz International
Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2017
  • Design Finish Year 2008
  • Size Site Area: 41 hectares Building Height: 33.50 meters Number of Stories: 7 Building Gross Area: 250,000
  • Collaborators
    Gleeds International Ltd Tricon Foodservice Consultants Assar Taylor, Lieberfeld & Heldman, Inc. Vk Engineering Gleeds Ingenieurs Associes Wirtz International

Architecture for a new era of diplomacy

The North Atlantic Council decided at the 1999 Washington Summit to replace NATO’s headquarters, which had been in use since 1967. Due to a significant rise in memberships over the years, the organization was relying partially on temporary structures to meet its needs for office space. An ensuing architectural competition was based around the ideas of flexibility, functionality, security, and sustainability.

SOM’s design proposal, selected in 2003, represents NATO’s growing focus on unification and integration in the 21st century. The campus is located on what was Belgium’s first airfield, which was occupied by German forces in 1915 and again during World War II by German and Allied forces. NATO’s peace-driven ambitions are represented through the building’s eight long and four short office wings (seven floors in the long wings, four in the short) intersecting with a central atrium—like fingers interlaced in a symbolic clasp of unity and interdependence. The atrium provides visibility for the office wings and serves as transitional space to common areas, such as the conference centre and staff canteen.

NATO Headquarters
© Marc Detiffe

Flexible design

The new building is eighty percent larger than the former headquarters and it provides NATO with a unique opportunity to transform its business practices. Over 5,000 official meetings take place annually at NATO, and users include 1,500 personnel from Allied delegations; 1,700 international military and civilian staff; 650 staff from NATO agencies; and an average of 500 visitors per day. The new NATO headquarters provides each of its 29 nations and 30 partner nations with embassy-level security, in addition to private and communal spaces where delegates can convene, thanks to flexible office layouts and shared amenities, including conference and recreational space.

NATO Headquarters
© Marc Detiffe
NATO Headquarters
Paolo Gentiloni (Prime Minister, Italy), Alexis Tsipras (Prime Minister, Greece), Xavier Bettel (Prime Minister, Luxembourg), Emmanuel Macron (President, France) and Angela Merkel (Federal Chancellor, Germany) © NATO
NATO
Centre to right: Theresa May (Prime Minister, United Kingdom) and Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister, Canada). © NATO

An ambitious sustainability agenda

Designed with a holistic approach to sustainability, the building incorporates a range of strategies to minimize environmental impact, including photovoltaic cells, green roofs, chilled slabs, and natural ventilation. Extensive thermal insulation, solar-glazing protection, and advanced lighting systems significantly reduce energy use. Windows are oriented to take maximum advantage of natural light, reducing electricity needs, while state-of-the-art “cogeneration” units provide most of the electricity and heating used on site. A geothermal heating and cooling system uses the constant temperature beneath the surface of the ground to provide heat during the winter and cool the building in the summer. A system of rainwater collection and storage supplies 90 percent of the water needed for the bathrooms, cleaning, and landscaping.