© LFT Oliver Raatz

With every end comes a new beginning. Belval epitomises this idea as a place where industrial heritage meets the future. As the era of blast furnaces came to an end, something new could emerge: the Cité des Sciences, de la Recherche et de l’Innovation, a unique hub for science, research and innovation. Launched in the 1990s with support from the state, the project ‘Belval-West’ has served to boost the transition of the region into the future, offering new retail spaces, housing concepts, spaces for research, education and leisure.

From steel industry to knowledge campus

Esch-Belval is undergoing a massive transformation. This once abandoned area is now teeming with life thanks to the presence of students. In recent years, its unique industrial setting has been redeveloped to accommodate office buildings, apartments, restaurants, cultural venues and much more. The Rockhal, for instance, which opened in 2006, boasts an extensive programme of concerts. It is hard to believe that just a generation ago, workers were still operating the blast furnaces. In 1973, a total of 7,000 workers were employed in Belval. Esch2022 aims to bring together young and old people and stimulate a dialogue between different generations who have experienced Belval in very different ways. The project ‘L’arrivée de la jeunesse’ is a perfect example of this approach, using archival material to bring to life the history of the first Italian immigrants who came to Luxembourg to work as miners. It will enable their grandchildren to reflect on their families’ origins and traditions.

A modernised past

With steel still being produced in Belval-East today, the past is still very much present in Belval’s modern city centre. But the former industrial buildings have been attributed new functions, as exemplified by the Luxembourg Learning Centre, with its library of nearly 450,000 books and magazines. Situated next to the industrial building of the Möllerei, it is emblematic of the area’s change from an industrial to a scientific society. The architectural concept of its façade is unique, its complex geometric structures and metal cladding allowing the daylight to enter the building so as to provide a pleasant environment conducive to learning while creating an aesthetic contrast to the Möllerei factory and the surrounding blast furnaces A and B. In Belval, industrial heritage meets cutting-edge architecture to create a perfect blend of old and new.

The future of tomorrow

Belval’s material and social infrastructure is constantly developing. This is what makes the area so exciting, as it is a place that people can design and shape together. In the words of Ernst Bloch: ‘Tomorrow it may contain more than its essence shows today.’ It is therefore important to shape the future together. This sense seems to be shared by the many people who come to the city of the future – in keeping with the motto ‘REMIX FUTURE’.

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