COMPANIES & STRATEGIES - ARCHITECTURE + REAL ESTATE

Emblematic building sites (3/10)

Central Square, the heart of the Square Mile



The heart of the Square Mile district will soon see a new phase in its urban development. (Photo: Agora)

The heart of the Square Mile district will soon see a new phase in its urban development. (Photo: Agora)

As part of our summer series, paperjam.lu invites you to discover emblematic new buildings underway across the country. Today, we visit Central Square in Belval. The heart of the Square Mile district, it will become a new centre of life for the future users of the district. 

After the “Terrace des Hauts Fourneaux”, “Belval Nord” and the parks, it is now the turn of the Square Mile to be developed in Belval. A number of buildings already exist in this area, such as the Capelli Towers, Rouden Eeck, Naos, or Southlane Tower 2. However, with the freeing up of the Square Mile car park, which closed on 12 June, the work on the heart of the district will be able to start.

A temporary parking offer

But let's go back a bit. In the early 2000s, it was decided that the 120-hectare former industrial site would be transformed into a new living space. In 2002, Jo Coenen's master plan was used to draw up the roadmap and identified five districts: Belval North, Belval South, the Blast Furnace Terrace, the Square Mile and the Park.

From the outset, urban planning was oriented towards sustainable development, favouring soft mobility to allow spontaneous social dialogue. To this end, people are encouraged to go on foot, by bicycle or possibly by public transport between neighbourhoods and intra-neighbourhood facilities, with the use of cars only in exceptional cases or to enter/exit the site. This is how the park is developed, which serves as a link between the neighbourhoods, or the implementation of wide pavements which allow pedestrian traffic side by side. The guideline for access to the site adopted at the time was the 60/40 split, 60% cars for 40% soft mobility and public transport. In this perspective, the number of car parks is determined by function and distributed over the site.

However, while waiting for all the infrastructure to be built, a temporary buffer car park was created around the sintering basins in the Square Mile district. Today, the CFL P+R has been built, as well as several other car parks on the site and at the foot of the buildings, to meet the needs of users. The temporary use of the Square Mile car park can therefore be put to an end and make way for the development of this area.

A neighbourhood that is gradually developing

The Square Mile district is developing around the Place des Bassins. Initially conceived as a business district, with 30% housing and 70% offices, its urban planning was reviewed by the KCAP office in 2011 following the 2008 crisis to better meet socio-economic needs. It is now planned to build 50% housing and 50% shops, services and offices.

To develop the Square Mile, Agora adopted a "pincer" strategy, first developing the areas where the new district would be linked to the existing districts. This is how the southern part of the Square Mile was built first, as it links with the Lycée already in operation, followed by the northern part, with the student accommodation. It is now time to develop the centre of the district, with the former sintering ponds at its heart, where the car park used to be.

Coordinated construction

The heart of the district is by the basin square, the design of which was entrusted to Metaform architects with Latz + Partners and HLG engineers following an international architectural competition. The two former sintering basins will be redeveloped into a new urban living space, with an amphitheatre in the small southern basin, a water promenade in the large basin and a range of restaurants and bars in the centre, with the two spaces connected by a ramp forming a kind of loop. Currently, studies are still being carried out on the site. The APS is in its final phase, and the APD should start soon.

The future pond square as imagined by Metaform architects. (Illustration: Metaform architects)

The future pond square as imagined by Metaform architects. (Illustration: Metaform architects)

Around this new public space, five construction lots have already been programmed and awarded, and two are still to come:

- Lot 40 is being developed by Eiffage-Perrard for a residential building with some office and retail space (3,300m2). The total gross floor area is 19,300m2 and completion of this project is expected in 2023.

- Lot 41 will be developed by BPI Real Estate and Unibra. They are proposing The Roots project (architect: ArtBuild Architects) which is a mixed retail, office and residential building. The deed of sale for the land has just been signed.

The Roots is a mixed-use retail, office and residential building being developed in the Square Mile. (Illustration: BPI Real Estate, Unibra Real Estate, ArtBuild Architects)

The Roots is a mixed-use retail, office and residential building being developed in the Square Mile. (Illustration: BPI Real Estate, Unibra Real Estate, ArtBuild Architects)

- Lot 42 is being developed by Atenor, which has commissioned A2M and Moreno Architects to design Square 42 - (total gross floor area: 21,581m2) which is an office building with a ground floor retail space. Completion is scheduled for 2023.

The Square 42 project is one of the major office developments to come in the Square Mile area. (Illustration: A2M-Moreno Architecture et Associés)

The Square 42 project is one of the major office developments to come in the Square Mile area. (Illustration: A2M-Moreno Architecture et Associés)

- Lot 43 is being developed by Corcelli and Technoconsult who are constructing a mixed-use building (total gross floor area: 21,600m2) comprising a 4-star hotel, offices, residential units and a shopping arcade. Completion is scheduled for 2023.

- Lot 44 is being developed by Tralux Immobilier, who are planning a mixed-use building with retail space on the ground floor, office space and residential accommodation (total gross floor area: 22,266m2). Completion is planned for 2025.

- Lot 45 was awarded to Luxembourg Capital, which commissioned m3 architects to design a mixed-use building (retail, offices, housing) with a total gross floor area of 12,300m2. The building features a rooftop urban farm concept, with crops sold on site. Completion is planned for 2024.

- Finally, lot 48 has not yet been allocated and will be developed at a later date.

Thanks to the closure of the car park, Agora can start work on the road infrastructure in this area. Once this has progressed, the work on the plots surrounding the square can begin in a coordinated manner. "We are striving to plan the building sites within the same time frame in order to limit disruption to the neighbourhood as much as possible and to create complexes that will quickly provide living quarters," explains Vincent Delwiche, director of Agora. "This also allows certain needs to be shared. This is the case for the underground car parks, which are shared for optimal use. Residents who do not need their parking space during the day can give it to someone who works in the building, for example. The commercial offer is also coordinated between the five projects under development - which form the "Club of Five" - so that the offer is complementary and not competitive.

Lots 42 and 43 will be launched simultaneously at the end of 2021-beginning of 2022 to create the street frontage along the boulevard. They should be completed in 2025. Then lot 40 will be started during 2022. Finally, the entire new district could be completed by 2026-2027.

This article was written for Paperjam.lu. It has been translated and edited for Delano.