Scouts Headquarters: an example of elegance and energy efficiency

The home of the National Federation of Boy and Girl Scouts in Luxembourg, a low energy building, is an elegant example of the combination of sustainable construction materials with a solid wood structure and Indaten® weathering steel envelope from ArcelorMittal that represents the Scouts' connection to nature and refers to Luxembourg's steel industry.

Detailed information

Diverse functions and challenging technical specifications

The construction of the new headquarters was commissioned in 2008 and included a complex and diverse design. Apart from administrative offices, meeting rooms, a library, and a shop, the new building houses a professional kitchen, storage facilities, and a small apartment.

The plot of land chosen for the building presented some challenges for the design team in the beginning: the historic site holds the remains of Fort Dumoulin, a 19th century castle. In order to document the archaeological rests, excavations were carried out in 2008 and 2009, which delayed the planned beginning of construction. In consultation with Luxembourg's National Site and Monument Service and the National Museum of History and Art, it was decided to erect the new building with a shallow foundation and a lightweight structure to avoid damaging the buried ruins. The reinforced concrete slab is supported by concrete piles resting directly on the subterranean rocks.

The building's morphology was defined not only by the remains of the fort, but also by other local conditions like the existing vegetation that had to be respected. The idea of an elegant construction that does not reveal either constructive nor structural details presented a challenge for the architects and contributes to the simplicity and the apparent serenity of its architecture.

The designers at Heisbourg Strotz Architectes, an architectural firm in Luxembourg, opted for simple shapes and created a building based on three rectangular volumes. Their inclined roofs define the trapezoidal facades – a design trick that generates a visual dynamic. The windows of the main building, also marked by their simple shapes, are framed in protruding volumes that animate the facades in a subtle way.

A sustainable combination: weathering steel & wood

The main construction materials were chosen based on their ecological characteristics that contribute to a sustainable way of building. This aspect was an important requirement taking into consideration the Scouts' connection to nature and the environment.

The outer facade panels consist of atmospheric corrosion resistant steel Indaten® supplied by ArcelorMittal. To ensure consistancy in the facade, the garage doors and ventilation grills are also made of Indaten® steel plates. Its brownish red colour integrates the building perfectly into the wooded site.

The sustainable aspect of the steel, apart from being produced from recycled scrap, is the fact that weathering steel does not require any maintenance or treatment of any kind and ensures a long service life, at the end of which it can be recycled again.

The use of steel for the building also establishes a reference to the historical relation between the Luxembourg Scouts and the country's steel industry. The first young Scouts group, Boy-Scouts Korps de Dudelange, was founded by Aloyse Meyer, former General Director of ARBED (now ArcelorMittal). Over the course of the years, many other directors of ARBED were President of the Luxembourg Scouts (FNEL) which links the steel industry's social involvement to the Scouts' history.

Beyond the usual reflection about insulation and the technical service installations, the architects ensured that every component of the building was made of the appropriate material.

Therefore, the building's structure is entirely made of solid wood, a renewable and sustainable natural resource. The secondary structure, made of wood as well, contains thermal insulation based on cellulose. In the interiors, wood is also the dominating material and all details were designed according to the criteria of simplicity and discretion. The green roofs of the buildings were designed to contribute to its ecological balance.

The project won the 2013 Luxembourg Steel Construction Award in the Sustainable Construction category co-organised by Infosteel.

Project information

  • City of Luxembourg
  • Luxembourg
  • 2013
  • Architect:
    hsa – heisbourg strotz architectes
  • Client:
    Fondation FNEL, Luxembourg
  • Engineering firm:
  • Contractor:
  • Photographer:
    Eric Chenal, Gilles Martin/ courtesy