Over the coming years, the urban business district on the Kirchberg Plateau will be interlaced with new residential areas. Our present assignment is part of an urban development plan by Urbis. The design for Zippers includes ambitious circular housing with characteristics such as constructive elements that can be dismantled, re-usable materials and sustainable energy-generation. Through the production of flexible residential buildings for mixed urban use, the business district will transform into a diverse and lively area.
Collecting and combining international knowledge
The client, Fonds Kirchberg, initiated a two-year trajectory for the project. To stimulate circularity, the fund gave priority to multidisciplinary and international research collectives. In a mix of international teams, all the available knowledge about sustainability, design, housing, regulations and construction techniques was researched and combined in order to achieve the highest possible level of circular housing. For example, by comparing more flexible construction-styles from France to more efficient construction methods from the Netherlands, and by combining their respective strengths, long-term design solution can be found.
LEVS' specific knowledge of large-scale housing projects with an enormous variety of floor plans has been coupled to modular construction techniques. And our approach to designing lively residential areas with anchor points has been applied to local residential customs in Luxembourg, in order to arrive at the best possible design solution. Our designs and proposals have been continuously tested against a wide range of indicators by Metabolic, an Amsterdam-based circularity consultation firm.
The ambitions for sustainability, living experience and future-proofness were very high. Together with circularity consultation firm Metabolic, we identified a series of indicators for the evaluation of the design in order to build a balanced circular residential complex. Buildings that stimulate the creation of a community and of bicycle-use. Buildings that promote health and well-being, and that have a connection with the surrounding natural environment. In addition, the buildings must be recyclable, re-usable and flexible in function. Last but not least, they will become affordable, as energy-generative as possible and water neutral. For all solutions, we have determined the long-term costs and effects, not only direct costs and results.
A significant step towards higher sustainability can be made by stopping to use new, natural resources. But even recycling places a considerable burden on the environment. Think of the labour, transportation costs and energy needed for disassembling and re-producing used materials. Because of this mindset, the nine residential buildings largely consist of building elements that can be disassembled and re-used or renovated. The residential buildings also contain the technology necessary to generate sustainable energy. In addition, the district has an underground integrated waste recycling system, bee hotels and various urban farming facilities.
An innovative and modular construction system of minimal concrete columns with double wooden beams, wooden hollow floors and wooden shaft columns has been specially designed for the project. This creates great flexibility in floor height and layout, high sound insulation and the option of integrating pipes and wiring. The structure of sophisticated construction elements provides a great variation in housing types, but can even be easily adapted or disassembled in the future. The facade can of course also be dismantled and is made of profiled ceramic elements.
The geometric and light architecture of this circular community ties in well with the modern and chic Kirchberg neighbourhood. At the same time, it has an open and welcoming appearance. The buildings are connected to green outdoor spaces at different levels. These places invite you to relax and meet others in a complex that exudes circularity.
Turning the knobs
The ample time given for research and design has resulted in balanced solutions, such that all indicators for this ambitious housing assignment have been accounted for. The result is a project that exceeds the usual standards for circularity. The project is energy-generating, water-neutral, extremely bio-diverse and almost all materials are reusable. The modular timber construction has created an architecturally harmonious ensemble of diverse housing types and communal green spaces that encourage social interaction. An excellent, circular and lively residential complex can be built.