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Impressions from Luxembourg

Written by: Ula Cryer

I've spent last weekend in Luxembourg, an interesting city, both for its beauty, history and multinationality. Being the financial capital of United Europe it is of course a very wealthy place, where expensive sport cars can be seen parked on a makeshift parking lot somewhere among the omnipresent construction sites. A lot of its “interestingness” and comfort has to do with the copious amounts of money the city is able to spend on aesthetics and useful facilities, some ideas however are smart at saving euros too.

Let's start with water taps. I haven't bought a single bottle of water, although the temperatures were nearing 30 degrees and the sun was full on. I could refill my flask and refresh on every other corner. The water in general is a topic that gets a lot of attention in the city, maybe because it used to have so much problems getting it in the past. The old town being placed on top of a rock 70m above the river had to rely on drilling very deep wells or bringing the water from the Ground, as the base of the city is called. Today Luxembourg is surrounded by tall water towers which take various shapes and are becoming architectural landmarks. The newest one - Chateaux d’eau opened this year and marks the entrance to the city, well visible from the highway.

There are many fountains to be found, both old and new. My personal favourite is one at the main square - a shallow pool tucked into an exposed sunny corner, which would be unbearably hot without this smart air-conditioning solution. Water park for kids is inspiring and engaging and the walkway along the river very relaxing.

Moreover, the public transport in all possible forms, including a panoramic elevator, sparing all users the effort of climbing up and down, makes moving around the town very easy and comfortable.

What I loved most, however, was the greenery. The parks along the gorge encompassing the old town, steep, rocky forested slopes, old and new parks throughout the city and the wild flowers seeded on the median strip. It all gave a feeling that natural environment is  appreciated and nonuniformity is welcome.

But not all is gold in Luxembourg, paradoxically especially in its gold quarters Kirchberg. The district of banks and European institutions is desolate and characterless, although many architectural solutions are worth looking at. Kirchberg was first constructed in the 60’s and has been undergoing a regeneration and development program since the early 90’s. The masterplan for greening and humanising the area from German landscape architecture office Latz+Partner improved the area significantly, nevertheless the urban structure is the one of separation.  Although surrounded with green areas, the connections between them and the district are few and far apart. Office district is large and monofunctional, the satellite residential areas on the other hand lack services. Life is not teeming in Kirchberg on weekends when big business is closed. Here the wild, unkempt flowers in street greenery amplify the feeling of emptiness, making one leave at once knowing that there is nothing else to find.

posted on 17/07/2018