No sane architect has grand dreams of building on a curved site with an aggressively-steep topography. Sometimes, however, it’s a case of making the best out of a less-than-ideal situation. Metaform took an opportunity to do exactly that by utilising the natural characteristics of a location in Dommeldange – a district on the outskirts of Luxembourg’s capital city.

The unusual plot inspired the form of 15 residential units that coil in segments, towards a collection of three-century-old trees, like the tail of a scorpion. With a 10-m difference in the ground height from the first apartment to the last, the architect found that the most effective way to manipulate the building’s form was to split the extruded volume into six connected sections and shift them down the hill.

The firm – in collaboration with local real estate developer ASARS – approached the project by identifying three key perceptions of shared housing: the idea of ‘living in a box’, with low quality of life and a lack of natural light; the negative repercussions on privacy when so closely-connected to one’s neighbours; and insufficient physical space, leading to discomfort.

‘When it comes to housing, one of the main problems people are facing in urban areas today – often places of constant growth and rising housing demands – is the need to choose an apartment typology over single-family houses,’ says the architect. ‘This is not because of their desire but out of necessity. Our approach was to carefully analyse the key issues and respond to them by using them as a base point of transformation, thus creating a new vision for collective housing.’

While the south and east elevations are characterised by full-height glazing in order to capture the maximum amount of sunlight, the north façade is mostly closed. Clad in a skin of ventilated triangular aluminium panels, the six volumes are almost identical in appearance and, together, dominate the residential landscape of the surrounding area. The project combines the residential units with shared areas in order to encourage a sense of community without losing privacy, with circulation considered vertically to avoid long, dark corridors.

Video courtesy of ASARS Constructions

Plan – Level 0

Cross Section
Location 30 Rue Antoine-Francois Van Der Meulen, Luxeumbourg