Top public and leisure buildings in Europe

The creation of public and leisure spaces inspires some of architecture’s best examples. Libraries, stadiums and museums are some of the constructions best reflecting the architects’ creativity by combining functionality, aesthetics and a profound consideration for the surrounding environment. In this article, Europe Real Estate looks at some of the most impressive public and leisure projects and existing buildings in Europe.

Le Grand Palais des Champs Elysées

Architects: LAN

Location: Paris, London


French architectural studio LAN recently won the competition for the renovation of the Grand Palais at Paris’s Champs Elysées. The Grand Palais is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex which was built following the demolition of the Palais de l'Industrie as part of the preparation works for the Universal Exposition of 1900. According to LAN, the project of restoration and redesign of the Grand Palais gives the chance to reinforce the aspiration of the Grand Palais to be a “culture machine". The new design will include several exhibition spaces, a restaurant and spaces for logistics and car parking in a new basement story.

Museum of the human body

Architects: BIG

Location: Montpellier, France

©BIG Architects ©BIG Architects

The Museum of the Human Body, which will be part of the newly developed area Parc Marianne in Montpellier, will explore the human body from an artistic, scientific and societal approach through cultural activities, interactive exhibitions, performances and workshops. BIG Architects, based in Denmark, recently won the competition for the design of this unique building, which will consist of a series of organic, intersecting ovals topped with sloping green roofs. According to the architects, “the 7,800 m² museum is conceived as a confluence of the park and the city – nature and architecture – bookending the Charpak Park along with the Montpellier city hall.” 

Library of Birmingham

Architects: Mecanoo

Location: Birmingham, UK

The_Library_of_Birmingham_-_Centenary_Square ©Elliott Brown

The £188.8 million Library of Birmingham opened to the public on September 3, 2013. Designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo, the impressive new structure was designed with the aim to transform the city’s library service and become a major cultural destination. The Library of Birmingham is a flagship project of the Birmingham City Council’s 20 year Big City Plan, focusing on the regeneration of the city. It is the largest public library in the United Kingdom and the largest regional library in Europe.

Olympics Aquatic Center

Architect: Zaha Hadid

Location: London, UK

©Hufton + Crow ©Hufton + Crow

The Olympics Aquatic Center was initially designed for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, the renowned architect’s original design had to be changed in the process to make room for an extra 15,000 seats. After the end of the Games, the building underwent transformation to revert to the original plan by Zaha Hadid and was opened to the public on the first of March, 2014.

Metropol Parasol

Architect: Jürgen Mayer H. architects

Location: Seville, Spain

©Rubendene ©Rubendene

Designed by Germany-based J. MAYER H. architects, “Metropol Parasol”, the redevelopment of the Plaza de la Encarnacíon in Seville has become the new icon of the city. It is one of the largest timber structures in the world and was designed to become the urban center of Sevilla, hosting retail and leisure activities. The Metropol Parasol offers an archaeological museum, a farmers market, an elevated plaza, multiple bars and restaurants underneath and inside the parasols, as well as a panorama terrace on the very top of the parasols.

The mission of public architecture is to enable human interaction by enhancing and improving the built environment. Following the latest trends in design while at the same time ensuring the fulfillment of multiple purposes, these buildings often become the icons of cities and contribute in multiple ways to their development and growth. 

Related Features