Gare Belval Université

Location: Belval, Luxembourg
Designer: Atelier d’Architecture et de Design Jim Clemes, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
Project: Railway Station Gare Belval Université
Client: CFL – Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois
Completion: 2008-2010
Structural engineering: Planning Phase: Schroeder & Associés SA, Luxembourg. Execution Phase: Milestone Consulting Engineers sàrl, Luxembourg
Building Technology: /Planning Phase: Jean Schmit Engineering sàrl, Luxembourg. Execution Phase: Betic SA, Garnich
Steel profiles for façades and roofs: Sistema Stabalux, Palladio SpA Treviso (Italia)
Photos: Radhia Rante and “Visions and More”
A new travelling dimension. The station spaces have become increasingly open to associated activities in strict relationship with city life.

The challenge in designing a 21st century rail station can be found in two great themes: give an historic and literary image to the railway station, embedded in our collective memory as a strong expression of modernity and echo of the industrial revolution, and on the other hand adapt a space to new contemporary urban needs of a population in constant movement.
The project for the “Belval Universitè” Station is certainly in the guiding lines for traditional great rail stations, but posing greater attention on how the station can be a place where travellers and commuters meet, mingling together, materialising the idea of the dynamic mobility of our society. Nowadays movement is even more frequent, faster and much more individual. In response to this new travelling dimension, the station spaces have become increasingly open to associated activities in strict relationship with city life.
Belval is a former industrial site of a steelworks, which is now being reconverted and will house the new university, a residential area and offices. The new station takes on a strategic role in this context: the main intermodal public transport link to the new district, where passengers can change from one transport method (e.g. rail) to another (e.g. road, whether it be a car, bus or bike).
It acts as a continuous platform: travellers are able to easily move from the train to the bus network, from their private cars to public transport. They can continue their journey on foot, passing through the large entrance portal – a bridge to the new part of the city.
The “Belval Université” Rail Station is directly linked by a walkway and a series of other links on various levels to the “Belvalplaza” shopping centre, to the Rockhal Concert Hall and the “Terrasse des Hauts – Fournaux” recreational area.
The main station building is formed of a 120 meter long concrete platform standing on 16 columns; it is 8 meters above the railway lines beneath, like a large roof to protect the passengers from the wind, rain and sun. The platform construction is an engineering and logistics challenge, and was performed without ever closing the station.
The roof is a steel structure with insertions of air-filled translucent components. These technological “cushions” form an external packing of three protective fibre-charged layers, differentiated by weave: daylight and shade are regulated by controlled inflating and deflating, depending on the level of air inside them.
The windowed perimeter band and the head and tail facades, create a direct visual link with the outside. At night, the internal station lighting makes it become a clearly identifiable landmark.

Marina Cescon
Acciaio Arte Architettura 56