AGORA – The Public Green, country and urban living at the same time
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The Public Green, country and urban living at the same time

In Belval Nord, the buildings rise up against a green landscape dotted with playgrounds: the Public Green. Arranged between the residential buildings, the layout is an invitation to take a walk or stop and play with the children.

As a “private space open to the public”, the Public Green is not a park but a landscape of vegetation, surrounding and encircling the residential buildings, which local residents and visitors are invited to make their own. In Belval Nord, a calming white and green setting is revealed: the pristine white cubist-style buildings are set on a green lawn, surrounded by a free arrangement of trees. The contrast is nicely effective. The peaceful atmosphere is conducive to chance encounters with neighbours.

“When the trees have grown taller, it will define the space between the buildings even better and the landscape concept will become more meaningful,” predicts Frank Wallenborn, chief project architect. “The vegetation will be on a par with the architecture, creating a fine duality between the organic and free aspect of nature and the stripped down character of the predominantly white buildings in the quarter.”

A community green space

The Public Green flirts with genres and defies categorisation. Neither a large public park nor a private garden for the sole use of residents, this new kind of urban landscape mixes form and function. “In this quarter we wanted to avoid having private gardens that would necessarily be space restricted and instead offer residents larger communal green spaces, which increase options and invite sharing, while remaining on the scale of a small neighbourhood,” explains Thomas Rau, Director of Urban Planning and Infrastructure.

The maintenance of the site, for which each owner has invested a sum when purchasing the property, is carried out by one single contractor and orchestrated by AGORA, which facilitates the logistics and ensures a tidy uniform landscape at all times.

The development serves a large number of residents of the quarter, which is densely populated but remains on a human scale with numerous green spaces. “We wanted to create quite a dense quarter – to meet a major housing need – but without overwhelming nature,” continues Thomas Rau. “From an urban planning point of view, these are not two or three-storey dwelling like many in Luxembourg, but taller towers, enabling more living space to be stacked up on a 12-13 hectare site and leaving a lot of green space between the buildings”

The past in the present

The Public Green, a biodiversity space with a variety of flora growing there, is part of the continuity of the pre-existing landscape. No industrial use has ever been made of this area of the site, which used to be orchards and cattle grazing. “The orchard is a key element of our landscape concept, and the Public Green has kept some of the appearance of the original orchards, with some of the tree species replanted in the same locations,” explains Frank Wallenborn.

AGORA ensures that this abundant flora is maintained and that a special place is created for the birds and small animals in the area.

Likewise, the playgrounds were designed to blend in with nature, integrating naturally into the landscape concept with equipment made exclusively of natural materials such as untreated wood “We didn’t want the playgrounds to look artificially installed there, but rather to have the simplicity of structures built cheaply and unpretentiously in the forest,” adds Frank Wallenborn.

They are already very successful. When spring arrives and the sun is shining, there are a lot of families enjoying the facilities, a stone’s thrown from their homes. In a post-pandemic world, the Public Green will also be the special place to arrange a picnic with your neighbours. You can also settle down with a good book. Or simply enjoy the landscape and the twittering of the birds.

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