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SPOTLIGHT: BELVAL, LUXEMBOURG

Once the home of steelworks production in Luxembourg, Belval quartier in Esch-sur-Alzette has been undergoing a drastic urban metamorphosis in the past two decades.
 
A street view of Belval showing the old and the new buildings together

Architects: Jo Coenen & Co Architects, Lubbers ‘s-Hertogenbosch

Location: Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg

Area: 1.3 million m2

Project Year: 2002 – Present Day

With the abandonment of steel production in Luxembourg since the 1970s, the major steel industry site had been falling into disuse, creating an inaccessible gap in the urban fabric of Luxembourg’s second-most populated commune.

2 images of Belval, showing the industrial pipes and tanks leftover from factories


A New Neighborhood


With a mission to revitalize this abandoned site, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Agora, a company created to undertake the urban redevelopment of Belval, announced a competition for the elaboration of a master plan for the district in 2001.


The competition was won by Jo Coenen & Co (now Metropolitan Architecture Research Studio) and the landscape designers Lubbers ‘s-Hertogenbosch (now ELYPS Landscape + Urban Design), with a project that would create a new, dynamic and modern neighborhood from the fingerprints of the site’s previous industrial remains.

3D model of the Belval project
Plan of the expansion and regeneration project of Belval – image © Agora s.a.r.l.

Today, Belval is regarded as one of the most ambitious regeneration projects in Europe.

With a university campus, music hall, shopping mall, housing and commerce units, an exhibition hall and even a zip-line, the neighborhood is slowly becoming the modern social hub it was intended to be.

A view of Belval showing the old and the new buildings together


Merging the Past with the Future


However, the site has not lost its connection with its industrial past: the existing structures of the steel factories have been kept among the new additions, creating a unique ambiance to the quartier. Reflecting water pools and planted gardens highlight the stark contrast between the modern structures and the industrial, rusted quality of the abandoned factories.


A view of Belval showing the old and the new buildings together

A view of Belval showing the old and the new buildings together

Merging the past with the future creates a strong and fitting symbol for Luxembourg itself.

Creating a new, dynamic quartier among the remains of immense factories needs a very subtle touch regarding the human scale. However, this is achieved skillfully in Belval. Walking among the great factory chimneys, and considerably large campus buildings, the quartier allows for open, green squares and a pedestrian-friendly flow in consecutive series.

A view of Belval showing the old and the new buildings together

Today, Belval stands as a successful example of revalorization and revitalization of an abandoned industrial site to become a modern and lively neighborhood, ever expanding to boost education, economy and culture.


A view of Belval showing the old and the new buildings together


 

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