The contrast is striking. Opposite the imposing Maison du Savoir, which houses the University of Luxembourg’s Belval campus, stands the “Petite maison” (“Little house”), a collaborative architectural project on the theme of circularity, officially inaugurated on Friday 16 September.

Petite Maison is built with salvaged, second-hand or recycled materials, as well as with renewable and/or highly reusable materials, products and raw materials. It consists of more than 500 construction elements.

Expressed in this way, the concept sounds basic, but the final realisation is nevertheless the result of three years of intensive work and collaboration between researchers, students and professors from the university and research centres, public and private organisations, design offices, companies and suppliers. In total, some 40 public and private partners were involved.

“An interesting agility for Luxembourg”

The project was designed and implemented under the direction of architect Carole Schmit, in direct collaboration with the University of Luxembourg and with the support of, among others, LIST and Luxinnovation.

“This inauguration is really a very special event,” explained the rector of the University, Stéphane Pallage. “In the continuity of an idea initiated by the architect Le Corbusier a few years ago, the Petite maison takes up the challenge of a totally circular construction, and for a modest sum. Everything is recoverable and reusable! It can be dismantled and rebuilt elsewhere. This constitutes an interesting agility for Luxembourg, and even Europe, and, who knows, a beginning of solutions to some of our housing problems.”

The project was submitted in 2019 as part of the preparations for the European Year of Culture Esch2022, and immediately appealed to those responsible for this huge cultural event. “A project highlighting circularity and sustainability is necessarily relevant to us, as we also rely on these values,” said Françoise Poos, director of cultural programming for Esch2022. “Belval is a fascinating place at the crossroads of the past, present and future. The site still suffers from a lack of human dimension, but it is precisely through art and culture that this dimension can be brought about.”

“A real springboard towards a more systematic circular construction”

The project also includes the creation of an ephemeral tree nursery of 41 trees, which are temporarily placed in front of the Petite maison to create a shaded and more intimate space for visitors. After the deconstruction of the building, scheduled for the end of the year, these trees will be replanted in Belval’s Central Square at the end of the winter.

“The Petite maison is an anchor, a nest, a place to be to help make the world a better place,” explained architect and project leader Carole Schmit. “The 40 partners with whom we have developed this project represent more than 150 volunteers who have cooperated very actively throughout the three years.”

In addition to their aesthetic aspect, the materials (wood, steel, glass) chosen for the Petite maison were chosen for their physical properties, their durability and their easy deconstruction without loss, which gives them a high potential for reuse.

“The Petite maison is a real springboard towards a more systematic circular construction in the country,” says Charles-Albert Florentin, manager of the Luxembourg CleanTech Cluster at Luxinnovation. “It allows us to concretely show that eco-design, digitalisation and the use of healthy, reusable and demountable materials have become essential, especially in a period of scarce resources.”


Photos: Eric Chenal

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