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metaform - ARCHITECTS

Contemporary Heritage

CFL New Headquarters - Place de la Gare, Luxembourg

# Award Winner

The administrative headquarters of Luxembourg’s national railway company (CFL) is an institutional part of the country’s urban fabric and a classic expression of 1950s architecture. Located at the literal seat of Luxembourg’s transport centre, it overlooks Place de la Gare on one of Luxembourg’s most emblematic squares. Its extension and redevelopment for 1200 staff was centred on retaining this heritage while strengthening its identity.

Built in the late 1950s, the original CFL building is a monument to Luxembourg’s industrial heritage. It occupies the north-eastern edge of Place de la Gare and acts as counterpoint to the baroque beauty of the adjacent central station. It showcases colossal concrete façades adorned with a recessed rhythm of mosaic tiles. Protecting this built heritage while re-imagining its connection to Rue du Fort Neipperg was the first principle in developing this modern architectural complex.

Social and economic responsibility are the cornerstones of CFL’s value and a large part of its strategy for future development. Consequently, a sensitive approach to minimising the environmental impact of the project and maximising available resources influenced every part of its design and development.

The original building used almost 1,000 m³ of concrete during its construction and released 1000 tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As a result, key structural elements of the existing building were retained to drastically reduce the carbon footprint of the new project.

Access to the new basement car park (69 spaces) uses existing infrastructure by routing vehicle circulation through the public car park next door. This clever integration – with permission from the City of Luxembourg – allows CFL staff to share existing street access and ramps via rue du Fort Neipperg.

Pedestrians and cyclists also benefit from improvements to accessibility of the north of the station, as well as the creation of a cycle link by widening the Rue du Chemin de Fer.

New frontiers
The façade of the historic headquarters facing Place de la Gare will not be modified, as it is protected and classified as part of the historical heritage of the City of Luxembourg. Instead, it will be brought back it its original glory with precise preservation techniques set out by SSNM.

The lateral façade facing the platforms is predominantly perceived by passing trains and features a 90metre-long orthogonal grid of multi directional fins that are intended to filter the south-easterly sunlight. It also acts as a counterpoint to the rhythm of the existing façade, which helps to define and differentiate the volumes. This grand frontage is punctuated at regular intervals by large bay windows that give glimpses of activity inside and in turn express CFL’s value for transparency.

The project maximises available space for recreation and relaxation for staff. The existing interior courtyard is partially preserved while a new staff restaurant on the ground floor is articulated around a large planted patio. This facility will serve 450 meals over two services each weekday.

As the extension wraps around the projects’ northern edge, its top floors cascade into a series of tiered roof terraces. This not only reduces the volume of the extension as it merges with Rue du Fort Neipperg but it also creates an occasion to maximise its southerly aspect. Each terrace offers a range of different atmospheres and activities.

A monumental staircase, circulation core and a mosaic mural fresco in the main entrance hall are largely retained in close collaboration with the Service des Sites et Monuments Nationaux (SSNM) and the City of Luxembourg.

The identity of the existing building is preserved through the creation of an atrium that separates the two volumes. This allows a smooth transition between the two parts of the project while allowing connections via walkways on each floor.

The atrium is a grand internal space that spans the height of the project. Its volume and configuration allow the entrance layout to double its reception capacity but also enables employees and visitors to be better oriented. It draws natural light deep into the heart of the building and enables windows to be opened from the inside for greater comfort and to facilitate maintenance.

The project is centred around creating a bright, modern and comfortable environment for staff that improves the quality of their working space, circulation and relaxation areas.

Significant improvements in the thermal performance of the renovated part have resulted in new triple-glazed windows with motorised external blinds and adapted insulation. Additional lifts also improve the flow of staff at peak times, with eight available for a waiting time of less than 30 seconds.

CFL also opted for an energy concept based on the heating and cooling of the building by means of a reversible active slab coupled with the ventilation system. Other innovative and sustainable solutions are the installation of hybrid panels, which produce both electricity and heat, and the installation of a rainwater and grey water recovery system to supply the green areas and toilet facilities of the new building.

These technologies actively reduce the need for resources in the new building and will enable CFL to achieve an “Excellent” level international BREEAM certification, which measures the environmental performance of buildings. It is also aiming for the highest WELL “Platinum” certification for the well-being of employees.

“The new building will be perfectly in line with our strategy which advocates the responsible use of resources. It will thus enable us to lower the levels of energy and water consumption and will benefit from excellent energy certifications.”
Marc Wengler General Manager, CFL
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The fifth façade