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Espaces22: The Skip, a unique building for young audiences

The Skip Pavillion ©Fonds Belval

‘Arrival in Belval. In the distance, a sunflower-yellow building stands out against a landscape of construction sites. Its undulating shapes interact with the curved topography of the former Luxembourg mining area.’ 

The sunflower-yellow (not to say ‘flashy yellow’) building is the Skip, a project managed by the Belval Fund. This pavilion is the result of an architectural competition reserved for young architects under 35, launched in June 2003. The winning project by Polaris Architects stood out for its ‘yellow wave’ shape, in line with the clear and strong image the organisers wanted this information hub to convey as part of the development of the Cité des Sciences. The colour – also called ‘construction-site yellow’ – is also a mindful reference to the working-class world. 

The name of the building comes from mining jargon, where it refers to the carts transporting the ore via the inclined freight elevator to the top-charging system of the Blast Furnace. Since its inauguration in 2005, the Skip has become one of the most visible symbols of the redevelopment of this former industrial site, fully playing its role as a signpost in the landscape. The pavilion was opened to the public for the first time on Saturday 18 June 2005, when the results of the architectural competition and the exhibition of projects for the new Lycée technique de Belval were published.  

In 2020, the Skip was relocated to Avenue des Hauts-Fourneaux in Belval, where it now neighbours the recently inaugurated bright red administrative building of Esch2022. An exceptional space boasting more than 400 sqm, the Skip will welcome young audiences and their families from February 2022 onwards. The interior refurbishment under supervision of the Berlin agency Studio KLV is designed to allow young visitors to prepare or expand on their visits of the exhibitions and heritage sites in Belval. A space conceived for everyday use by audiences of all ages, its futuristic metal-based interior design and the events it is scheduled to host will reflect Esch2022’s partnerships with cultural institutions specialised in the digital field such as ZKM, HeK and Ars Electronica. During the launch, several activities will be organised around the conquest of space! Among other things, this multifunctional space, which aims to ‘cultivate culture’, will include a studio for workshops, games and books available for on-site consultation as well as dedicated spaces where users can give free reign to their creativity. 

At the time of design, the young Brussels-based architects office Polaris was composed of Carole Schmit, Bertrand Vanturenhout, François Thiry and Emil Ivanescu.