Conversion project

From Luxembourg’s largest steelworks to a modern city quarter

Once the site of Luxemburg’s biggest ironworks, and now one of the most ambitious urban development projects in Europe – with one very special feature: parts of the former industrial site are being retained, and will be uniquely integrated in the new concept. The two remaining blast furnaces not only bear witness to a long-gone era, but are also landmarks of New Belval.

Discover the witnesses to the past on the map below, and see what their roles in their new lives will be.

Blast furnaces

Measuring 82 and 90 metres respectively, the two remaining blast furnaces, A and B, largely determine the silhouette of Belval. Blast furnace A had been a “spare” since 1990. Thanks to its excellent condition, it was preserved and will in future house the National Centre for Industrial Culture (Centre National de la Culture Industrielle). It is already possible to climb up to the charging platform (40 metres up) and see Belval from above. Blast furnace B will remain as a shell and urban landmark.

Administration building

The steelworks’ former administration building of 1914 was completely refurbished in 2002, and is today the headquarters of Agora, the development company.

Furnace workers’ changing rooms and workshops

The building that once housed the changing rooms and sanitary blocks for the furnace workers was built in 1969, and was extended in 1972 and 1978. It was later converted to plans by the Luxembourg architect Arlette Schneiders, and since 2012 has housed a new business centre. The exterior appearance was retained, and the new construction integrated in the old building shell. The building has been on Luxembourg's additional monuments list (Inventaire supplémentaire des Sites et Monuments Nationaux) since 2000.

Blasting hall

Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the “Halle des Soufflantes” is vast: 160 m long, 70 m wide and 28 m high. In fact, it is almost identical in size to the world-famous “Tate Modern” in London, which was not built until 1950. As part of the blast furnace system, the blasting hall converted gas into electric energy, and also produced wind from gas blowers. The energy thus acquired was used, among other things, to drive the machinery in the steel and rolling mills. It is not yet known what the blasting hall will be used for in the future. (Source: Die Adolf-Emil-Hütte in Esch. In: Stahl und Eisen, vol. 33, no. 18, 1 May 1913)

Sinter plant

The “sinter plant” is to the west of the blast furnace site. This was where powdery iron ore was caked with concentrates and additives and processed into pellets, which were then further processed into pig iron in the blast furnaces. It was easier for the gases that occur in steel-making to escape from the pellets, which helped to improve the quality of the end product. Parts of the stacks and two sinter basins have been retained. They are being integrated in the development of the Square Mile.

Gas flare

Gas was produced when the ore and coke were burnt in the blast furnaces, which was then collected and reused in the production of cast iron. To control the pressure in the system, excess gas was burnt off in the gas flare. The gas flare will be retained as a monument.

Highway

The “Highway” is an access road on concrete supports that linked the foundry buildings of the blast furnaces A and B. It measured a total of 538 m in length and around 6 m in width. Parts of this access road, such as the section between the foundry building of blast furnace A and the “Maison de l'Innovation”, were rebuilt as exact replicas and integrated in the urban context.

Stockhouse

Like the two blast furnaces A and B, the stockhouse is one of the main relics of Belval’s steel industry. It was used to prepare the charge, a combination of coke, ore and other materials that were fed into the blast furnaces. The building is 170 m long, and was preserved in volume and capacity as a characteristic part of the site. Most of the site has been gutted, and is now home to the university library. The front section is to become part of the National Industrial Culture Centre.

Massenoire

The “Massenoire” building is to the south of the blast furnace site. This is where the closing compound for the blast furnace tapholes, the tar-based black mass, was prepared. The production of black mass ended with the introduction of the counterpressure process, and the workshop was closed at the end of the 1970s. Today it is home to an exhibition on the Cité des Sciences (City of Science) that accompanies and records the construction process.

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