At the end of a competitive process, the city of Luxembourg selected STEINMETZDEMEYER to design and build the facilities that will house the services of public administration, « Bierger-Center » in a historical street block at the heart of the Old Town. The administration now occupies the whole typical building whereas five housing units are set up on the floors of former elegant townhouses along place Guillaume II.
The project required the complicated rehabilitation of a set of historical buildings dating back to 1691 and the addition of a wing containing a new ceremony hall, the “pavilion”.
The rehabilitation of the existing buildings offered a thorough redesign of the interior space to provide it with clarity and fluidity - essential qualities in a busy public building. The street block centre, that was just a dark and cluttered area, has given way to a glass-covered courtyard that redistributes the light over four stories and enhances the former interior façade. New access balconies distribute each story and enable the routing of all technical flows required for new functions without stepping on the restored heritage.
STEINMETZDEMEYER architects have opted for a clear confrontation of ages. Not to put them at odds with each other but for reciprocal enrichment. Surrounded by historical buildings with orderly mouldings made of sandy stones, sealers, slates and zinc, the contemporary wing offers the clear contrast of a geometrical but irregularly shaped pavilion.
The first section of the wing, housing the new ceremony hall, rests on the ground and reinforces the urban features of the pavilion as it approaches the public square.
The wing abstractly materializes, thanks to a continuous silk-screened glass skin wrapping the steel structure. Depending on the light conditions, it will adopt the colour of the sky or that of the surrounding and will either be transparent or more opaque reflecting the historical buildings around.
The white vertical pattern of the silk-screen printing is applied, in various widths, on the exterior side of the glass. In this way, it provides a sunshade to the building and gives it an original materiality.
The four-density alternation allows modifying the level of protection depending on orientations as well as the level of useful transparency depending on the views and transitions around the wrapping opaque sections desired to preserve the intimacy of the ceremony hall.
Inside, the vertical wood-slat acoustic partitions repeat the pattern of the windows and provide the touch of warmth that matches the reception and benevolent authority functions of this public service facility.
Architecture takes off from formalism as it overtly assumes a contemporary and expressive outlook. A new meaning is then provided to the place that shall eventually find its own existence and be identified as such by the public.
Using simple shapes and yet complex details, the new architecture puts on a degree of sophistication akin to affectation. In this respect, it is both the jewel that the city offers to its inhabitants and the setting that will witness the key moments of their lives.
Gross Built Area: 4.571,00 m²
Jean Schmit Engineering
Brands / Products :
1. AGC GlassLine GmbH - Silk-screened glass, tempered glass 8.8.4/20/8.4.4 2, coated glass Vision 60T
2. AGC GlassLine GmbH - glass railing
3. Kanfanar Giallo d’Istria - stone floor
4. MIKROPOR (Lahnau Akustik GMBH) - False chilled ceiling (radiant) and acoustic for the ceremony room and the gateway.
Lead Architects: Muriel Vereecken, Frédéric Legros
Centre Guillaume II by Nico Steinmetz in Luxembourg won the WA Award Cycle 26. Please find below the WA Award poster for this project.
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