Offices of Portugal at the European Council

Offices of Portugal in the European Council

In 2017 SUSDESIGN was awarded the contract for the renovation of the Room of Portugal at the Europa Building - the seat of the Council of the European Union and European Council in Brussels.


The objective of the project was to improve the comfort conditions and to provide a light, warm, differentiated Portuguese identity to the neutral, bland interiors of the office rooms, with minimal intervention in structural elements.

Cork was requested as a fundamental material by the client, and as such, CORQUE furniture played a central role within the project, with lively furniture pieces and furnishings from other brands adding bright contrasting colors to the earthy wood-and-cork palette.


In order to meet the design brief, a selection of prominent Portuguese design brands was curated by SUSDESIGN Founder and Director Dr. Ana Mestre, including CORQUE, Studio PEDRITA, BRANCA LISBOA, FERREIRA DE SÁ, and BUREL.

The modular office sections were redesigned into a three-room format from four small rooms - joining the press release room and the Prime Minister's office into one large central room.

The simple, functional, dark gray office furniture was replaced with comfortable and functional-but-unconventional furniture pieces, and the predominantly dark gray color palette of the furniture was replaced with the natural beige-brown tones of cork and wood, as well as some bright colors to create contrast.

Wooden tripod lamps with cork lamp shades were placed throughout the office to disrupt the white light and give a warmer ambience.

The photos and artwork to adorn the walls of the offices were selected by the client.


Reception / Main Hall

The main hall of the offices comprises a reception area, a waiting area / lounge, and hot desks, as well as a kitchenette area in the far back.


The reception area is separated from the main door by a twelve-module CORQUE Eliptica bookcase/biombo, which also provides some privacy to the secretary area, defined by the Moorish Mosaic desk with the pattern in blue. 


Further on is the waiting area, which was set up as a casual and comfortable lounge. Here, upon a three-meter diameter vibrant FERREIRA DE SÁ carpet stand three Corqui chairs supported by three Lagarta stools/coffee tables. The carpet has a custom gradient pattern running from blue to black and is made of Econyl - recycled nylon from discarded fishermen’s nets. On the back wall is a tile art-piece from PEDRITA, depicting a pixelated grasshopper with its wings open - each pixel consisting of different traditional Portuguese tiles. A beautiful and unique CORQUE lamp with a cork lampshade provides a warm ambient light to this area.  This lounge area is further separated from the anterior of the room by a cork-and-wool (Burel) biombo, specifically crafted for this project.


Behind the biombo was devised as a hot-desk area for work. The area comprises two glass tables with Eliptica-style solid high-density agglomerated cork legs to continue the cork theme. The glass table tops give an increased sense of space and lightness to the area. 4 computers are set up for use, with two additional seats for laptop users and non-computer related work. Behind this area is the storage section of the room - a series of floor to ceiling wardrobes/cabinets, which also separate the simple kitchenette from the rest of the space. The doors of the cabinets of this space are also covered with cork textile, continuing the overall theme, and providing a warm aesthetic.


In accordance with the staff’s wishes, the two single-occupant sofas and four burel puffs were retained from the previous setup, providing additional seating without interfering with the rest of the hall.


Ambassador’s Room

The first room of the Portuguese Offices at the European Council are those of the ambassador. This room, similar to the others, was designed with lightness in mind. The space is clean and clutter-free, with a simple white storage cabinet behind the door, a plain clothes hanger, and a photograph art-piece selected by the Portuguese Ambassador hanging on the back wall.


The Ambassador’s desk is a CORQUE Moorish Mosaic, with its pattern in red. A cork lamp provides a warm, soothing ambient light to the room, supplementing the strong white lights of the Europa Building’s central lighting. In front of the Ambassador’s desk is a seating group with a round table - of glass with metal legs, and four beechwood BRANCA LISBOA Aranha chairs, all centered on a 2m x 3m traditional Portuguese carpet by FERREIRA DE SÁ.


Prime Minister’s Room

The central 2-door office is the largest room of the Portuguese offices. Initially two small individual rooms separated by a modular wall, they were joined to increase space and functionality. The room is split into two areas by two large 3m x 3m traditional Portuguese carpets by FERREIRA DE SÁ - the Prime Minister’s workspace and the Prime Minister’s lounge / reception area.


The workspace comprises a CORQUE Quercus Suber desk with its velvet-like cork top, and three beechwood Aranha chairs. The desk is flanked by the Portuguese and European Union flags on its left and a CORQUE lamp on its right. Behind the Prime Minister’s desk was chosen a mosaic of archive photos in the form of a ‘Coração de Viana’ - ‘Heart of Viana’, composition by Clara Azevedo.


The reception/lounge area comprises four CORQUE Corqui lounge chairs and two red BRANCA LISBOA Sofo sofas - which break the natural pastel colors of the cork and wood - all laid out around a parallelogram glass coffee table that retains the Eliptica-style legs found on glass tables throughout the Portugal Room. The seats are supported by three CORQUE Lagartas - which can be utilized as  stools, footstools or additional coffee tables - as well as a CORQUE tripod lamp to provide a warm ambient support light. The reception/lounge is flanked by the artwork - ‘Tapeçaria de Portalegre’ by artist Jorge Martins, reflecting the colors of Portugal - green, yellow, and red on the back wall, as well as a photo of Mario Soares signing the Accession of Portugal to the European Communities in 1985, on the side column.


Finally, the room also hosts a CORQUE Beja sideboard to support catering and accessories as necessary, and completing the aesthetical concept.


Meeting Room

The final room of the Portuguese premises is the meeting room.


The central meeting table was designed to decrease the claustrophobic atmosphere of the room’s small size, while providing seats for a generous 9 to 10 people, with Eliptica-style legs supporting a large 1.6m x 3m glass top. This allows increased perceptible space in the room, and creates a cleaner and more roomy atmosphere, while maintaining the formal presentation. 


A Beja sideboard, along with the Portuguese and European Union flags, sit in the niche next to the entrance of the room, while photographs of important moments of Portuguese-European Union history line the walls.


At the end of the table is a teleconferencing solution.

Project Details
Client: Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Local: Europa Building, Brussels, Belgium
Year: 2017
Team: Ana Mestre; Rasim Can Savaskan; Pedro Leitão