metaform architects metaform architects

metaform - ARCHITECTS

Square Mile

Innovating an urban block - Belval, Luxembourg

Square mile is a multi-functional urban block located in Beval, a former industrial steel site in south-west Luxembourg. It is part of an ambitious urban renewal project that has transformed the area from a derelict brownfield site into a vibrant city quarter. The building features three functional tiers that offer commercial space for shops, offices and residential apartments.

The shape of the internal courtyard is a result of a thorough solar analysis and a desire to provide each living area with the optimal amount of natural light and ventilation. Each apartment has a private loggia that can be closed with slatted blinds to create an extension of the adjoining day spaces.


Programming principles

To ensure a coherent architectural language, Square Mile has been organised according to a superimposition of functions. A commercial program unfolds at the base of the building, while offices occupy the first floor and apartments comprise the rest. The building also has two basement levels that contain technical premises, cellars and 185 parking spaces.

You can access commercial and craft spaces at street level through large transparent walls that provide optimal luminosity and exposure to the public realm. These retail zones are intentionally flexible – from 25m² to 2000m² – and feature 5.5m-high ceilings, which can accommodate mezzanine floors to further maximize usable space. This deliberate level of light and visibility allows occupants to engage directly with life on the street.

Offices have been placed on the first floor to create a separate and serene working environment from the commercial streetscape below. You can access these workspaces from one of two monumental staircases that are linked together by an internal street. This throughfare is open to the elements, which brings natural light into the workspaces and provides a reflection of the seasons.


The first floor has been recessed to create an intentional setback from the main façades. This architectural gesture reduces the impact of solar gains and the need for air-conditioning. It also creates a visual transition between the apartments above and provides a buffer to the noise and turbulence of activities below.

The apartments occupy the remaining five floors and are concealed within a massive white monolith. This stark contrast between the transparency of the ground floor and the recess of the first floor gives the building lightness and the impression that the housing block is floating above. Residences range from 41 m² studios to 140 m² three-bedroom flats and all comply with the passive house standard of energy class AAA. The sixth floor is reserved for large three-bedroom flats, which all have internal access to a 20-30m² green roof terrace.

Quiet access

Distribution corridors are limited to five stairwells and lifts in the building. These allow access to only four to five apartments per landing, which drastically reduces noise pollution between common and private areas.

Green light 

An in-depth approach to signage was studied in order to develop an effective wayfinding system in the building. Specific colours were used in stairwells and lift access – from parking levels to landings – in order to create memorable landmarks for residents and visitors to easily find their way.

With a clear emphasis on sustainable development and quality of life, Square Mile presents a simple and functional approach to the service of inhabitants in Belval.