January 2022
Luxembourg in Transition

© MECDD Luxembourg Ministry of Environment, Climate, and Sustainable Development, data from ClimFun project / LIST – Jürgen Junk / UL –Diana Valentina Zarnescu

Our work for the third and last phase of the international call for tender Luxembourg in Transition emphasises the transformation of commercial zones. Starting from the premise that no new land should be sealed, we focus on unfolding the tremendous reservoir of fossil spaces and surfaces under the condition of introducing sufficiency in mobility. Envisioning a future with fewer cars allows us to turn spatial and urban planning upside down and, instead of extending the built fabric, to intensify both the built as well as the unbuilt environment. In other words: besides making working possible where people live and building affordable housing where people work, we also propose to densify and to diversify mono-functional urban patterns.

© Frame Art Media – Bartosch Zaisch

Here, commercial zones have a particular potential for the transition as they seal tremendous surface of land due to large parking areas and big-box type of urbanism, but also because they are part of an unsustainable flow of goods and people on regional and global scale.

Our project proposes a guide on the transformation of commercial zones, which multiply across the territory, standing as 'monuments' to the fossil-dependent, broken territory of Luxembourg. We started from the question: how can these mono-functional areas with no inhabitants, defined by high frequency of cars and visitors, become small-grained, habitable and lively neighbourhoods and towns, built on more just principles of housing distribution and economies of maintenance and repair?

© UL – Caroline Faber

The guide is organised around four chapters: how these fossil driven areas can become car-free; how the newly available (and formerly car-occupied) space can be used productively; what could be the new activities in the commercial areas and who could be the new relevant actors and stakeholders in organising and promoting these activities; and finally, how those spaces can be renaturalised. Each of these chapters proposes both a concrete set of strategies for the repair of the commercial zone of Foetz—our case study, as well as a more general set of steps that could serve as starting point for the transformation of other commercial zones.

Photo © UL – Alborz Baboli Teymoorzadeh, Rendering © Aristavia – Marco Aristavia, Miguel Aristavia

Created in the context of the construction of the motorway A4 in the 1970s, and with its more than 100 companies, the commercial zone of Foetz now covers an area larger than the historic centre of Luxembourg. It is an island of unsustainable car-centered consumerism, surrounded by a partly contaminated, partly unproductive landscape with which it has no relationship. Starting from here, the first part of our project focused on developing Foetz into a decarbonised and resilient, highly mixed and porous urban 'island' within what we call 'the 1.6TCO2 archipelago' – an 'island' that is sustainably connected to the other city 'islands' and villages, and which has a productive interaction with the landscape surrounding it.

© UL – Diogo Gomes Costa, Caroline Faber, Florian Hertweck

In the second part of this report, we zoom out from Foetz to show how, on one side, the surrounding, today highly fragmented and partly contaminated landscape could be repaired in order to become more resilient, and on the other, how the immediate landscape, once framed into the form of a 'green belt' could operate as a tool for preventing urban sprawl. Finally, in the third part, we outline how the transition of a place can be approached and accepted by citizens if we agree that such a site should not be developed anymore by a classic top-down planning and private developers.

© Aristavia – Marco Aristavia, Miguel Aristavia

Partner institutions
Luxembourg Insitute of Science and Technology (LIST)
Centre for Ecological Learning Luxembourg (CELL)
Institute for Organic Agriculture Luxembourg (IBLA)
Office for Landscape Morphology (OLM)

Principal investigator
Prof. Dr. Florian Hertweck

Names of collaborators
University of Luxembourg (UL)
Tom Becker, Diogo Gomez Costa, Dr. Estelle Evrard, Caroline Faber, Marielle Ferreira Silva, Christos Floros, Prof. Dr. Jean-Régis Hadji-Minaglou, Prof. Dr. Joachim Hansen, Prof. Dr. Markus Hesse, Prof. Dr. Catherine Jones, Dr. Marija Maric, Prof. Dr. Markus Miessen, Simona Bozhidarova Popova, Dr. Rachel Reckinger, Prof. Dr. Christian Schulz, Diana Valentina Zarnescu, Prof. Dr. Francesco Viti, Prof. Dr. Danièle Waldmann, Céline Zimmer

Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)
Dr. Enrico Benetto, Christian Braun, Dr. Elie Daher, Dr. Thomas Gibon, Dr. Claudia Hitaj, Dr. Jürgen Junk

Centre for Ecological Learning Luxembourg (CELL)
Dr. Markus Molz, Norry Schneider, Sophie Zuang

Institute for Organic Agriculture Luxembourg (IBLA)
Dr. Sabine Kessler

Office for Landscape Morphology (OLM)
Philippe Coignet, Christelle Monnier

Administrative Support
Brigitte Batyko
Sara Volterrani

Graphic Design
Lena Mahr, Marija Maric

Graphic Contributions
Eurogroupe / Gregory Dapra, Laure Giletti for the Manual
ANPU / Clémence Jost for Imagine Foetz
Michelle Liesch

Aristaviva / Marco Aristaviva, Miguel Aristaviva

Photography and Video
Media Centre UL / Alborz Baboli Teymoorzadeh, Sascha Helsper
Frame Art Media / Bartosch Zaisch

Participatory Workshops
ANPU / Clémence Jost, Laurent Petit