Since the 1970s, European judges, parliamentarians and bankers have held office on the plateau of Kirchberg in Luxemburg. Now, this typical monofunctional office district is slowly transforming into a more mixed urban environment. The cars on its motorway have made way for trams and a new urban boulevard. On this boulevard, parliamentarians now walk to their jobs alongside the district’s new residents.
A small strip of 16 hectares sits between the new urban boulevard and the village-like district of Weimershof. Here, the Kirchberg Fund held a competition for the development of a sustainable residential area. The masterplan by Urbis, BoschSlabbers and Witteveen+Bos won the competition. The jury heralded the plan’s transition between the different urban districts and its integration of sustainability into the design.
The size of the project makes for an extended construction period of circa 20 years. In 2016, the design development of the first section was finished. The second section followed in 2019. In the same period, BoschSlabbers developed the designs for its public spaces.
– Jury chairman Markus Neppl, urban planner and managing director at ASTOC architects and planners and Professor for Urban planning and design at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
The topography (the plateau) and character of the surrounding districts and green spaces are leading in the design process. It led to a plan with buildings that slope like a cascade. Between the buildings, visual connections are created, along with an intricate network of cycle paths and footways. User groups are connected in a mix of housing types, shops and offices, with a communal inner courtyard for each block. Already in the design stages, co-creation involved user groups in their future locale. The open water system takes care of any excess water and a more balanced rainwater drainage. The resulting water flows follow existing topographies: a long cascade along the backbone of the area.
– Designer Rosie Brader, BoschSlabbers
The essential ingredient for sustainability is the introduction of residential and leisure space into office districts. This mix of functions creates an urban space which has more to offer, and increasingly phases out commuter traffic. In addition, solar potential has been a factor in the positioning of buildings. They have been designed to harness as much energy as possible, but also to be able to cool. Finally, there is the open rainwater system, a relatively new concept for Luxemburg.
The design principles for both buildings and outdoor spaces include guidelines for sustainability. Examples are the discouragement of cars and the stimulation of bicycles. But there is more: local power generation, the connection of green spaces, and sustainable water management and use of materials. Inclusion of such principles early on in the process means they cannot be pushed aside in later phases.
– Designer Rosie Brader, BoschSlabbers
This strategic approach ensures the viability of the plan during its long-term construction. At the same time, it enables the incorporation of the latest technological advancements. Clearly, the plan is not a blueprint. For each subproject, architects and developers can create their own build within the larger framework of design principles.
This extends to the design of outdoor spaces. Clever connections between buildings and outdoor space leave room for a wide range of spatial solutions. The backbone of the plan is the water system connected to the local topography. This also structures the phasing of the project. A robust framework of outdoor spaces and connections safeguards the projects’ flexibility and overall quality.
In the first section of the plan, tall freestanding buildings are planned. The opening between buildings create connections between the Avenue Kennedy and the Dalpark. The park is situated nine meters below the avenue, at the end of the water flow, with a water playground and sections designated as water retention zones. A central stairwell leads the visitor into the Dalpark. A pavilion with a restaurant marks the route. Most residential units in this area are apartments with an excellent view of the historical city centre. Between the buildings, roof gardens offer views of the greenery.
In the second section, a series of squares are placed at right angles to the Avenue Kennedy. This prevents the closing off of space by a wall of buildings. The squares have been designed according to ‘shared space’ principles. Building blocks are oriented towards and are accessible from the squares. This circumvents the construction of new roads. The plinths of the building blocks along the Avenue Kennedy provide space for different non-residential functions. Furthermore, the building blocks all have a public inner courtyard, and there are private patios and roof gardens. All gardens are designed during development of each new block, to fit them to the wishes of the actual residents of that moment.
Title: Master plan Kennedy Süd
Location: Kirchberg, Luxembourg city, LUX
Size: 16 ha
Client: Fonds d'urbanisation et d'amenagement du Plateau de Kirchberg
Cooperation: Urbis Urban Design, Wittteveen+Bos, Arcoop, Bas Sala, DPI
Contractor: CRH Structural: Alvon, Calduran Kalkzandsteen, Dycore Systeemvloeren en Heembeton
Duration: Design 2011-2019; Realisation 2018-2030
Type: master plan, urban planning, outdoor space
Image credits: BoschSlabbers, Urbis Urban Design, DPI
Project code: ZS 12-07