Back in 2019, Urban Agency, together with COBE, won the urban planning competition to transform a former steel plant in Esch-Sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, into a new district of innovation, craft and sustainable mobility. Today the master plan has been developed to focus on creating human-scaled spaces, biodiverse green living environments and car-free infrastructure while maintaining the history and identity of the steel factory. The industrial site is planned to become a mixed-use district, with housing for over 8,000 new residents, office space, four new schools, craft and workshop spaces as well as a wide variety of public functions. The overall vision for Metzeschmelz can be described by five strategies:
1. A frame of urban nature and a network of habitats – Two parks frame and are integrated into the district, connecting the master plan area to the surrounding nature parks and existing biotopes. Smaller green spaces within the urban neighbourhoods are designed to connect to the larger park infrastructure, serving not only as recreational space but important connections for diverse species and insects.
2. A walkable network of healthy spaces – The grid follows the orientation and character of the existing structures. A central spine runs through the middle of the district where public transportation and a green bike highway connects the whole of Metzeschmelz. East-west streets are aligned, serving as green streets and ventilation corridors. The north-south lanes are flexible and can adapt to accommodate evolving plot sizes, but also create more varied and interesting routes through the area.
3. Preservation and reuse by giving existing structures new life – Heritage and transformation are central to the overall master plan. More than twenty buildings and structures have been identified as having cultural value and have thereby been preserved to various degrees and integrated within the district. The cultural heritage and historical narrative of the site remains, while contemporary programs infuse the old buildings with new life, making them attractive and accessible to the public.
4. Interconnected mobility and car-free streets – Metzeschmelz is designed as a car-free district where public transportation, bikes and pedestrians are prioritized above cars. A central boulevard with trams and BRT lines connects to the pedestrian network, main public spaces and heritage buildings. Facility hubs are placed centrally across the neighbourhoods, serving as parking houses but also sites for last mile delivery services, bike/car rentals, retail and innovative energy symbiosis functions that will help to power the district with locally generated and stored energy. Through an integrated network of infrastructure, the new master plan provides for a variety of connections within the district, but also robust urban connections between Esch and Schifflange for the first time.
5. Dense mix of buildings and functions, adapted to context – The building typologies vary depending on location and environmental context, with high commercial buildings acting as a sound barrier against the railway and lower density buildings towards the Alzette river, with more intimate residential developments. The variety of building typologies create the foundation for a diversity of uses and users.
Industrial transformation / Mixed-use urban plan
Urban Agency, COBE, LuxPlan, Urban Creators
Invited Competition, winner
Ongoing, Delivered LP3, currently commencing public participation workshops
Henning Stüben, Heechan Park, Scott Grbavac, Kristen Van Haeren, Anna Yancheva, Gaspar Canepa, Borja Santurino