Luxembourg: Country of innovative steel products for the construction sector

The Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with ArcelorMittal, the OAI (Order of Architects and Consulting Engineers) and the da Vinci association, organized a conference on the topic ‘Luxembourg: Country of innovative steel products for the construction sector’ on November 20th. It was also an opportunity to invite the participants to a visit of the Differdange site to discover the infrastructures and the role of innovation.

Indeed, the afternoon began at ArcelorMittal plant of Differdange where the guests, including HRH Prince Guillaume and his son HRH Prince Paul-Louis, discovered the Grey Mill and the finishing area, the latter having been revamped thanks to a €35-million investment. The site is now home to the world’s largest roller straightener ever built for sections, a brand-new cold-saw and more upgraded equipment to optimize the quality of high added value products. The beams of Differdange are thus integrated into landmark buildings around the world: from the One World Trade Center in New York to the Shanghai Financial Center. Over time, steel has also been able to prevail, innovation having always been the plant’s driver since the 19th century, recalled its CEO.

Rendez-vous ensuite à la Chambre de Commerce pour la conférence introduite par M. Wurth - Président de la Chambre de Commerce. Il y rappelle l’importance de l’innovation dans la construction, impliquant chercheurs, ingénieurs et architectes pour pérenniser le secteur.

© Pierre Guersing – Chambre de Commerce

Pr. Olivier Vassart, Head of ArcelorMittal Global R&D Long products introduced Steligence®, ArcelorMittal’s new intelligent building approach to design the sustainable buildings of tomorrow. A consultation of ArcelorMittal’s stakeholders (architects, engineers, investors, public authorities, etc.) was conducted to better understand their respective expectations and challenges. With this input, ArcelorMittal has relied on its strengths – a wide range of products and expertise - to offer integrated and optimized constructive solutions. A methodology has been created to measure the economic, environmental and social impacts of different construction alternatives. Still in a collaborative approach, the method has been reinforced with the help of relevant experts. This holistic philosophy highlights the advantages of steel and its optimal combination with concrete.

Then Mr. Philippe Massard, metal construction engineer, Founder of Mabilux put forward all the steel constructions in Luxembourg, from buildings to the car parks. Among the landmarks: House of the Book (Belval), Rives of Clausen, Vertigo (Cloche d’Or), Press Center (Kirchberg), CFL Multimodal (Bettembourg), Parking CFL (Esch Belval), Garage Jaguar (Land Rover South). He also valued the advantage of steel, providing a great deal of flexibility and significant environmental benefits related to its ability to be recycled and reused.

The various construction solutions and steel challenges were finally debated during a round table led by M. Christophe Langenbrink from Luxemburger Wort, bringing together Olivier Vassart, Mr. Robert Jeworowski, Consulting engineer, Schroeder & Associés and Mrs. Tatiana Fabeck, Architect, Fabeck Architectes.

Pointing out the strength of the steel market and ArcelorMittal’s global leadership position, Mr. Langenbrink first gave Mr. Vassart the opportunity to reiterate the importance of smart design to keep this leadership and face growing expectations from society. Ms Fabeck underlined that the roots of the new Steligence® approach were already developed 20 years ago in her first major project in Luxembourg, where the flexibility of steel was already recognized and promoted by architects, but still faces investors skepticism. Concrete remains well entrenched, especially for building owners who look at the immediate cost of the future building. But Steligence will provide a better overview of the strengths of steel Mr. Jeworowski says. According to Ms Fabeck, the choice of material also depends on the functionality of the building and design because in some cases the immediate costs of using steel are too high. Mr. Vassart pointed out that the overall cost of the material must be considered, including that related to its environmental performance, throughout the life cycle of the building. Mr Langenbrink then continued with the question of the fire resistance of materials, recalling the disaster of 11 September 2001. Mr Vassart confirms the progress in this area by emphasizing that today fire resistance is planned in the design of each building. He also explains that the Twin Towers have actually withstood the impacts of airplanes thanks to the steel beams. The latter has the property of resisting both the torsion and the compression, so that one third of the sheared steel was finally supported by the remaining two thirds. The resistance would have been even better with a composite steel-concrete structure. The discussion then turned to the environmental benefits of materials. Wood is today at the center of several projects where the control of the environmental footprint is very advanced, says Ms. Fabeck, but it is not recyclable as is steel. Politics has a role to play, through public buildings, to value the environmental assets of materials. Flexibility, recycling and aesthetic finesse finally qualified for steel. Jos Dell, President of OAI closed this event by highlighting the progress to be made in terms of relationship between entrepreneurs and the steel industry in Luxembourg, hoping that Steligence® will precisely improve the situation.