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How do go from a former industrial site to a new carbon-neutral neighbourhood?


After the final closure of the production site in 2016, the idea of a new mixed-use neighbourhood to replace the industrial use quickly became apparent. The first step was to carry out a study about the possible future uses of the Metzschmelz site. More than 100 experts from the public and private sector took part in this feasibility study. The aim of the study was to develop different scenarios in terms of ecology, culture, economy and spatial planning. The future development of a new neighbourhood was therefore shaped by the conditions inherited from the former industrial use.


The development of the Esch-sur-Alzette – Schifflange industrial site is fully in line with the objectives and concepts proposed by the international consultation Luxembourg in Transition. The aim is to apply a wide range of concepts to the 60 hectares available in order to demonstrate that it is possible to repair and rethink a territory in the context of carbon neutrality.

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The general context

Timeline and methodological planning

Challenges and next steps

The general context

Metzeschmelz aims to become a model carbon-neutral district thanks to innovative concepts in energy and water management, the renaturation of the Alzette, multifunctional buildings combining a secondary school with office space and housing, and car parks including local shops and services.


Mobility hubs will concentrate cars in one single place, with the aim of using less land and freeing up public space for attractive meeting places.


Future residents will have access to sporting facilities, local shops, leisure facilities, primary and secondary schools and crèches, as well as excellent connections to the various public transport networks. Metzeschmelz will be designed to reduce car use.


The district is part of an approach aimed at using resources in a circular and interconnected way. It will make use of solar energy, water recovery from wastewater, the development of public spaces organized as urban forests, and so on.


The project also plans to retain elements of the former steelworks, for a unique industrial touch.

Timeline and methodological planning

The first phase of preliminary studies and consultations was completed in 2018. The results enabled an urban design workshop to be held in April 2019. Four international teams took part in this “workshop week”. These four teams specialized in the development and implementation of major urban planning projects on former industrial sites. The aim of the workshop was to develop common guidelines and structured proposals for the future district in five days, with the support of the local community.


A jury composed of representatives from the government, ArcelorMittal, the City of Esch-sur-Alzette and the Municipality of Schifflange selected the winning project, a team made up of the architecture and planning firms COBE (Copenhagen), URBAN AGENCY (UA) (Copenhagen), LUXPLAN S.A. (Luxembourg) and URBAN CREATORS (Copenhagen).


A master plan was drawn up that provides for a gross built area of almost 800,000 m². Nearly 50% of this area will be dedicated to residential use, to accommodate up to 10,000 people in the future. Of the total surface area, 25% will be dedicated to offices, shops, artisans and professionals. Public institutions in the two municipalities, including elementary schools and a high school, will benefit from 9% of the total surface area.


The orientations of the master plan will be deepened and refined by new studies. Various themes are currently being addressed in parallel, with studies on mobility (Facility Hubs feasibility study), public spaces (Design Manual) and a circular concept for municipal resources (Symbiosis). In this context, the results of public participation, in particular the Fréijoersforum, are also being used.


In addition, the first remediation and dismantling measures are currently being prepared and implemented, in order to prepare the site for the first construction activities. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2027, once the various authorization procedures have been completed.


On the political-administrative front, the conditions required for subsequent construction are being implemented in parallel: firstly, the General Land Use Plan (PAG) is to be amended to allow for a mainly mixed use of the former industrial site. The amendments to the General Land Use Plan have been discussed and approved by the municipal councils of Esch-sur-Alzette and Schifflange, taking into account the views of their citizens. The Minister of the Interior must also approve the proposed changes. The procedure for amending the PAG should be completed by early 2024.


At the same time as the PAG is being amended, the first Detailed Land Use Plan (PAP) is being drawn up, to be followed by others as the planning process progresses.

Challenges and next steps

The metamorphosis of the site will only be a success if politicians, planning authorities and citizens work closely together. In 2023, therefore, an extensive multi-annual information and participation process will begin. The idea is to provide transparent information to enable an exchange aimed at enriching the planning and investing in the site together through local initiatives and associations – even before the first residents move in. This approach is inspired by the successful experience of the Biergerkommitee Lëtzebuerg 2050, which accompanied the work of the international consultation.


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