Luxembourg is a beautiful city with a strong presence of history and beautiful green valleys between the different plateaus that accommodates the city fabric. The scale of the city centre is low and quite dense with beautiful public spaces and pedestrian streets. But Luxembourg also has a number of challenges especially around mobility; for example biking is considered almost impossible because of the topography (traversing the up to 40m difference between the plateaus is hard work for both pedestrians and bicyclists). The hope is that the planned new elevators at central nodes in the city will help to promote biking as the most efficient, healthy and sustainable daily transport mode.

The City is divided onto two plateaus.

The main pedestrian zone

Jan Gehl visited Luxembourg in the spring of 2011 and introduced people oriented planning as a means to create living, sustainable, healthy and diverse cities. Gehl Architects was then invited by the city of Luxembourg to give a capacity building program ‘Cities for People’ in February 2012. The main aim of the program was to kick start a change of mind-set, from traffic planning to people planning. Throughout the 5 days program we introduced theory, methods and tools to put people in the centre of planning, specifically focusing on mobility and sociability. The program was a mix of theory, best practice-presentations, workshop exercises and field work, a public lecture and interviews for local media.

The hands-on workshop gave participants an opportunity to discuss concrete plans and strategies for the city

The City had invited planners from different departments of the city administration, traffic engineers, the city manager, the architectural foundation, planners from state planning departments and cultural- and event-planners. Bringing together people from different departments and make them cooperate and share knowledge was a big success. People working with urban planning in different departments and from different perspectives got an occasion to meet each other in person and to discuss the city’s visions, strategies and the means to improve the public realm. They got a shared experience, and the same tools and references to use in their future work in the city of Luxembourg – from a shared people first perspective.

Gehl Architects is looking forward to the next steps taken by the city of Luxembourg.

Workshop participants apply Gehl’s public life and public space survey methods in one of the main squares of Luxembourg

1 comment
  1. This is very interesting.
    I have been living for about 6 years in Luxemburg city(from 1994 till 2001) It took me about 20 minutes to cycle the 6 km from home in the centre to climb the Kichberg plateau. By bus it takes about 40 minutes to arrive at the RTL headquarters situated at the end of the plateau!
    People called you nuts dearing to cycle in Luxemburg; Car drivers do not pay attention and were never motivated to respect the feeble road user. Some tracks were existing but the access to these and the crossings were extremely dangerous.
    Over the past years Luxembourg has developed a complete new approach towards cyclists and pedestrians. A group of biker activists has done some super lobbying. The introduction of the ‘velo-city rental’ similar to all big cities in Europe has changed the cities-view completely.
    But Luxembourg has the finances to invest in these projects!
    What about smaller cities just across the border which are more than ever in the need of a new vision on urban design? Cities like Arlon in Belgium, Longwy and longyon in France of which more than 60% of the population are cross border worker in luxemburg.
    These cities have a rich historical heritage but need a complete new approach in using their public space, local commerce, tourism….
    How to counter the still existing conviction that a city center needs to be nonstop accessible for car users ?How to motivate local rigid politicians? This is much more a challenge, in which citizens have to participate to push local authorities.
    Together with some neighbours and friends we have gathered all our ideas into a program for a new vision on the city of Arlon. We will present our group to the local press and invite the citizens to dialogue on different items through our blog.
    Communal elections are held in October 2012! We hope to be able to discuss our vision with all local parties.
    Gudrun Smalle

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