17 June, 2013

Big Projects in a Small Country

This came out of the press at ETH Zurich, recently published in 'disP - The Planning Review': 'Das "Kirchberg-Syndrom": grosse Projekte im kleinen Land. Bauen und Planen in Luxemburg.

('The Kirchberg Syndrome: Large-Scale Projects in a Small Country – On building and planning policies in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg'). Author: Markus Hesse, UL

English abstract reads as follows:
The paper deals with planning strategies and building practices in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, particularly in its capital city Luxembourg-City, which is a small but highly internationalized metropolis. The main goal of the paper is to reconstruct local planning trajectories, starting with the 1960s urban extension of the European quarter and banking district of the “Kirchberg”. Since then, spatial planning in city and country seem to favour relatively large-scale projects, considered as drivers of both economic growth and apparently sustainable patterns of spatial development. This particular style of planning and policy making is also coined the Kirchberg-Syndrome.

However, the tendency to favour big projects (of which the new, €1bn university campus/science district in Esch-Belval is the most recent incarnation) faces serious problems, such as the dominance of office space, a lack of urban integration, and high risks of financing and implementation. It also happens in a fragmented, intricate environment of urban policy, characterized by small towns and municipalities, limited public planning capabilities and an only recent tradition – and thus limited acceptance – of planning, policy and regulation. This rather specific “exceptional urbanism” of Luxembourg does not fit with contemporary planning theories. It can only be understood against the contradictory background of rapid development dynamics, unusually ‘thick’ ways of decision making and international policy mobilities.

16 June, 2013


Carr recently published in Journal of European Planning Studies, "Discourse Yes, Implementation Maybe: an Immobility and Paralysis of Sustainable Development Policy".  50 free copies available here.  


11 June, 2013


SUSTAINGOV researchers will present the project at the Annual Conference of the International Network of Urban Research and Action held this year in Portugal (June 23- June 30).


Among the various round tables and talks on the (sustainable or not sustainable) future of Luxembourg, there is one more this Thursday June 13: the 'Festival d'Architecture 2013' -- 'Futura Bold?'.  A Colloque will be held at 16h00 at the Fondation de l'Architecture et de l'Ingénierie (1, rue de l'Aciérie in L-1112 Luxembourg), which will include a panel on regional planning, housing, and mobility issues. Participation of SUSTAINGOV is foreseen.
Entrée libre.

A reportage on the event can be found here

Addendum II
This is just to add a personal reflection on the above event and thus add a certain detail to what the otherwise really good piece in the woxx does not refer to.
The first two round-tables were actually concerned with the same issue: the state and the future of the country's spatial or, even better, general development ('Landesplanung'). It would have actually been interesting to have the two round-tables brought into conversation with each other, rather than having them one following the other. And pity that the RT1, consisting exclusively of money people if you want, was not really confronted with the limits of the current development model, and even less so with the obvious constraints of the contemporary planning attitude and government's strategy.
As there are lots of discourses on the country's future currently going on, it seems necessary not to repeat the usual talks on well-known single topics in usual configurations, but to mix up the various fields of development, bring them into interaction and let the various social and political milieux exchange their ideas, rather than just present individual statements.
MH, 27 June 2013

10 June, 2013


Welcome to the website and blogspot of SUSTAINGOV - a research project hosted at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning of the University of Luxemboug, and funded by the Fonds National de la Recherche.

In the coming months we will fill it up with up-to-date information and narratives that evolve from our research, as well as related stories in the wider context of sustainability, urban and regional planning, and governance. Stay tuned!