Curated by: Sara Noel Costa de Araujo / SNCDA et al.

On the occasion of the 2021 Venice Biennale, the LUCA Luxembourg Center for Architecture invited architect Sara Noel Costa De Araujo to explore the concept of modular living. Studio SNDCA responded by overlapping the curatorial approach with the actual design of modular, mobile housing units to be set in clusters on the many vacant plots of building land in Luxembourg. This speculative project can thus be read as an engaged attempt to match the international exhibition with domestic concerns about the housing crisis.

Source: Accattone #7 (May 2021) p.107 Homes for Luxembourg Studio SNCDA et al. at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Studio SNCDA’s design for modular housing units walk a tightrope between other typologies: minimal in space requirement yet fully equipped, they refuse the concept of “tiny houses”. They should neither look like emergency containers nor be piled up like a dense housing block. Tapping into the local desire for individual houses on a garden plot, they need to look like fragile villas landing gently on the ground – no need for deep foundations – yet comfortably petit bourgeois, to accommodate both the inhabitants and their neighbours.

The units are thin and slender: the basic 52 m² configuration measures 3.9 by 14.4 m,1 with a glazed façade running along three sides and a back wall integrating storage space, the kitchen and smaller openings. The interior is an open space, only partitioned by the bathroom block, which mediates access to the bed, and by two curtains: the first encircles the bed, the second hides the kitchen worktop or, when drawn, divides the living area into two equal parts. With such minimal housing, inhabitants are projected outside. Depending on the size of the plot, several units can be deployed and accommodate different households and domestic programmes: singles alone, singles sharing, small or larger families, students or workers.

1 Building regulations vary for each municipality. In Luxemburg City, the minimum surface for any housing unit is 52 m2.

Source: Accattone #7 (May 2021) p104 Homes for Luxembourg Studio SNCDA et al. at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Survey, Valentin Bansac

Analysts consider that the structure of the land property is crucial to this crisis. There are around 2800 empty hectares available in the building land ‘perimeter’,1 a figure that has remained stable for decades – in any case, since records began. This is in part because we develop as much land as we add to the perimeter. However, there are also indicators that much of this land has been buildable for a long time, but nothing is being built.

— MICHÈLE SINNER, Radio 100.7
During a round-table discussion at the crossroads of culture, architecture and politics in the context of Luxembourg’s participation in the Venice Architecture Biennale.

1 Editor’s note: in Luxembourg, ‘perimeter’ is the common term used to describe the boundary of buildable land allowed by each municipality’s General Development Plan (PAG).