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On To New Pastures

The UK’s Brexit referendum in 2016 has caused uncertainty for many businesses in the pharma sector. For the EMA, it meant relocation from London to a more secure spot in the European Union. Since March 2019, the EMA has been operating from a temporary site, the Spark building, in Amsterdam Sloterdijk. But now, a purpose-built 19 storey building in Amsterdam’s Zuidas area is ready for action. Constructed in under two years, the completion of the new HQ met the EMA’s November deadline.

“I actually love the time pressure. It is an amazing challenge to build an office in such a short period of time. Something like this would usually take twice as long,” said Frans Rombouts, Project Director at Heijmans, the construction-services company that took on the build . “On March 8, we started working on the design – a phase that generally takes over eight months; our final design was finished in half a year – an unprecedented achievement in the Netherlands.”

Guido Rasi, the EMA’s Executive Director, who recently signed the lease, thanked the Dutch authorities for supporting the agency’s goal of finishing construction by November, but reflected on the broader challenges of the move in an interview with Agence France Presse (1). “The move was painful. It was painful because it was a choice to move to London, and this came out of the blue. [Our staff] had to find jobs for spouses, schools [for their children, and adapt to] a different way of living."

Though the building doesn’t overlook Amsterdam’s famous canals, it does boast a 38,000m2 floor space, a rooftop terrace, and a vertical garden. The building exceeds the “excellent” rating of BREEAM (a sustainability assessment method that is used to masterplan projects, infrastructure and buildings) and has a Bijna EnergieNeutraal Gebouw (BENG – nearly zero-energy building) performance, meaning that at least 50 percent of the energy used in the building comes from sustainable sources. 

The 900 staff who will call the new site home should officially begin working there in January 2020, once all technical equipment has been installed. During the transition from the Spark building to the Zuidas site, the EMA says it will limit the number of face-to-face meetings.

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  1. France 24, “Dutch flaunt Brexit booty with EU agency opening”. Available at:
About the Author
Maryam Mahdi

Deputy Editor

After finishing my degree, I envisioned a career in science communications. However, life took an unexpected turn and I ended up teaching abroad. Though the experience was amazing and I learned a great deal from it, I jumped at the opportunity to work for Texere. I'm excited to see where this new journey takes me!

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