In an architectural world where the vast majority of buildings is initiated by developers – and therefore has very few specific characteristics – and where more and more brands produce intangible and largely virtual contents, it is a rare pleasure to imagine an essential structure for a steel producer. This building needs to represent a product that coincides with the very beginning of civilization, in a country where history is forged by the steel industry and is strongly identified with that company.
The Arcelor Mittal headquarter needs to articulate three concrete ambitions:
– Assert the presence of Arcelor Mittal on the Kirchberg Plateau
– Expand the skyline of the city
– Demonstrate all the qualities of steel
The unique quality of steel is that it can be strong and hollow at the same time. It is this paradoxical combination that we use to the maximum – each component is used at the same time as structure to support the weight of the building and as a hollow shaft to deliver services to all parts of the construction. In this way, the building does not only demonstrate steel’s versatility, it also displays its beauty, from the utilitarian robustness of metal decking to the velvety quality of sandblasted steel plates. Walls, ceilings, floors, even acoustic materials: all will be made of steel. Glass and wood will be the only complementary materials to make the interiors efficient and welcoming.
The project is divided in two parts, different fire safety regimes inspired the concept. The Arcelor Mittal program follows high-rise regulations, while the rental offices stay within the low-rise regulations.
The base is resting on a terraced ground floor that is interpreted as an urban version of the topography of the Kirchberg Plateau. Common facilities such as the university, the auditorium (extendable to a mini conference center), the cafeteria with a view on the valley, occupy the terraced ground floor. In one version, we propose a hotel on the valley side with a view over the city. From the corner facing Place de l’ Europe, playful stairs give access to the roof which is planted simply as a meadow to be used by the office workers and the public.
From the courtyard rises the Arcelor Mittal tower, reaching maximum height allowance, the volume is suspended high above the base. From the city the entire tower will appear by magic. Instead of a forced iconic form, sheer ingenuity will create a sense of wonder. The exposed section of the core is used intensively as part of the building to establish the sustainability of the building’s technical performance.
The inevitable movement of the façade across the range of Luxembourg’s temperatures, has been mobilized to reinforce a systematic inside outside indentation across the entire façade – a visible breathing – that makes the steel come alive.