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Biodiversum Visitor Center: Eco-architecture Wooden Building in Luxembourg

Le Cas Présenté November 2017
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The Biodiversum Visitor Centre is located in Remerschen on the edge of the Haff Réimech Nature Reserve. 


The visitor centre building was designed to be closely tied to the land making it very relevant to the functions and activities of the centre itself. It has a low impact on the surrounding landscape and is purposely integrated into the environment where the project benefits from the redevelopment of a brownfield on a former industrial site in Remerschen.


The designers of Biodiversum created an artificial peninsula for the building and have taken advantage of the lake's water with the use of a geothermal heating system.
Not only did the physical design and harmonious integration of the building into the landscape play key roles, but the construction materials and technologies as well. The materials used in the wooden building design referenced the Cradle to Cradle approach and the energy sources emphasize eco-friendly technologies and sustainability.







Remerschen, Luxemburg


The Biodiversum visitor/information centre is located in the Haff Réimech Nature Reserve.

The 80 hectare reserve forms part of the redevelopment of a brownfield located in a former 280 hectare gravel pit at Remerschen in the Moselle Valley between Remich and Schengen. The ’greening’ of this brownfield which was then remediated for use as a public open space is an important element in the overall concept and design of Biodiversum.




Project team


Valentiny HVP Architects ( Architecture and land development. Contact person: Torsten Altmeyer -


Administration Bâtiments Publics


Thermal consultancy and technical engineering:



Other Companies

Structural work: SGI Ingenieure Junglister (



Time schedule


New construction: 2011 – 2016

Original Project: 1998



Renovation costs


Construction cost: 3,900,000 €
Cost/m2: 2,438 €/m2



Building use, description and area


Usable Floor Area (UFA): 1,300 m2

Enclosed indoor volume: 11,400 m3

Surrounding exterior area: 5,002 m2


The building houses permanent exhibitions on topics related to environmental awareness such as bird protection, biodiversity and evolution of the nature reserve and is comprised of:

-multipurpose room for temporary exhibitions and events related to nature

-rooms for school classes and meetings

-offices of the visitor centre


The building takes the form of the hull of a ship beached on the shore. It stretches over 62 m long and has 3 levels. This building has a low impact on the landscape as a result of the roof ridge gradually lowering to ground level, as well as the fact that the ground floor is partially subterranean. There is also a part of the building which stands on pilings in the water.

The north gable widens out, presenting a large curtain façade which offers a panoramic view at almost water level. The building is divided into eight bays in order to sustain the intermediate floors. However, no portico can be perceived under the vault: a mesh of diagonal lines constitutes the support of the interior cladding which ensures the bracing of the framework. This ogive folding grid was built with four layers of Douglas fir wood blades with a 3 cm thickness. Planks of the same wood, spaced 10 mm apart, are also applied to absorb the sound. The vault opens onto the outside with fifteen narrow bays. Red cedar cladding uniformly covers the main nave. On the western side of the hall, the cafeteria offers an unobstructed view of the pond through a glass façade which is compartmentalized into diamonds shapes and reminiscent of a fishnet.



Envelope performance


Above the rhombus framework, glued laminated arched trusses (w/h = 16cm x 27cm) are placed at an axial spacing of 1.74 m. They lean against each other on the ridge and are connected to form a two-hinged frame. With the help of glued laminated timber lamellae on the underside of the girders, the rhombus framework is suspended to the trusses. These wooden lamellae are wider than the trusses so their overhanging edges can then be screwed to the rhombus framework and achieve the suspension.

On the framework’s underside (interior space), the compounded lamellae consist of three planking boards and give it a unified-look. Together with the actual prefabricated planking which is inserted between them, a finished ceiling view from below has been created.


The remaining roof construction has a vapor barrier with more than 16 cm of thermal insulation (mineral wool) up to the red cedar shingles of the roof. The roof construction, without the rhombus framework, measures approximately 60 cm.


Global building results:



U value


0.28 W/m2.ºK



Energy Systems


The building takes advantage of the lake’s water through an innovative heat pump that draws its energy directly from the lake water via submerged exchangers.  The water is then pumped into the low temperature floor heating system. This application ensures superior thermal comfort and allows the interior space to achieve high overall efficiencies due to its greater reactivity and its operation at low temperatures.



Heating Systems


Geothermal heat pump


Low temperature floor heating - OPAL Systems. This heating solution contains a special feature in which the pipes, the diffusers and the floor covering are all in direct contact. The diffusion of heat is most optimally ensured by specific diffusers and a mesh of expanded metal which, in combination with the tile or parquet adhesive, arms the whole structure. The upper layer is therefore no longer necessary. This new heat transmitter reduces the energy consumption for the heating of building.



Ventilation system


Natural ventilation

Nocturnal ventilation



Eco-friendly Technologies


As it was impossible to pump water from the lake to supply the heat pumps, heat exchangers were specifically designed to achieve underwater energy transfers. These prototypes came in the form of boxes featuring a load-bearing structure and a grooved pipe with a large exchange surface wrapped around this structure. Two assemblies, featuring five boxes, were positioned strategically in the lake in order to benefit from its natural currents. This technology also enables avoiding the use of glycol in the primary circuit, achieving a similar level of effectiveness, but without having any significant impact on the water temperature.

Furthermore, this new model of heat pump enables production of domestic hot water, which is ensured by a second heat exchanger which recovers the energy from hot gases.





The building is made entirely of wood providing an efficient thermal insulation. Buildings of wood have a significantly lower carbon emissions and use less energy than those made from the typical construction material. Eco-friendly technologies are also promoted by a heat pump system which was developed specifically for this project.



Awards and Recognition


Green Solutions Awards 2017

Holzbaupreis Eifel 2016



Additional information





Author(s) information


Collaboration and editing: Meredith Davis

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