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Architectural Icon: Valentiny Foundation
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Architectural Icon: Valentiny Foundation

by Sarita Rao 3 min. 10.04.2021 From our online archive
A unique curved façade made of Schengen plaster honours Luxembourg’s greatest modern architect
The curved façade with cats-eye windows continues with the ship motif seen too in the Biodiversum
The curved façade with cats-eye windows continues with the ship motif seen too in the Biodiversum
Brigida Gonzalez

Tucked away on the Route de Vin in Remerschen you’ll find a little architectural wonder – the Valentiny Foundation.

Opened in 2016, it contains part of Luxembourg architect François Valentiny’s artistic creations, including drawings, acrylic paintings, sketches, sculptures, and models of buildings he created with his Viennese architectural partner Hubert Hermann. In total the foundation houses some 3000 objects.

The building itself is a façade created by Valentiny HVP Architects, responsible also for the nearby Biodiversum building, which also uses a ship theme, and the striking KPMG headquarters in Kirchberg, Les Thermes leisure complex in Strassen/Bertrange. Valentiny’s company is currently working on the wine museum in Ehnen.

Built over a primary school building, the white façade of the foundation/gallery has the quality of a Gaudi building, in that it seems to be almost alive and breathing. The white walls curve up and outwards in grand vertical sweeps (recalling a ship motif in a very different way to the wooden Biodiversum), and the entrance has soft flaps, shaped like lips, that give it a mouth-like quality, whilst the light for the inside of the building is provided by a set of vertical cats-eye shaped windows. 

The façade is made from Schengen plaster a traditional mix of lime cement and Moselle sand that was originally used on the old farmhouses in the region. Inside the rooms are completely white, with the only colour coming from the exhibits.

The multi-functional building holds a permanent exhibition of Valentiny’s work, but also houses temporary exhibitions and has a conference room and lecture theatre.

Valentiny’s career in Europe and beyond

Valentiny designed KPMG Luxembourg's HQ building
Valentiny designed KPMG Luxembourg's HQ building
Guy Jallay

Valentiny was born in 1953 in the village of Remerschen. The son of a carpenter, he followed that tradition, but went on to study architecture at Nancy and Vienna, where he formed his partnership with Hermann.

He has lectured at the University of Trier and in 1991 became Luxembourg’s first representative at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. He was the country’s commissioner there in 2004 and 2006.

Valentiny has worked in various roles advising the City of Salzburg and Frankfurt, as well as working as a professor at Leipzig University. In 2002 he founded and published Luxembourg’s first architecture magazine, Adato.

In 2007, his architectural work was honoured when he received the Luxembourg Architectural Prize. He has won numerous awards including the Cruz Europea de Oro, and was named as one of the 100 architects of the year by the Korean Institute of Architects in 2016.

Valentiny designed the Pavilion for Luxembourg at the Shanghai Expo in 2010, which won second prize. His architectural creations can be seen in numerous towns and cities in Germany, Belgium, and further afield in Azerbaijan, Brazil, China and the United States.

The foundation’s website says that architecture begins with the vision in sketches and plans, which release the architect from limits and compromise. In Valentiny’s drawings and the models of his buildings the public can see his vision, technical style, choice of motif and personality.

Architects are master builders, sculptors and painters, rather than just scientists who produce anonymous buildings. A quote from Valentiny reads: “Every project is an adventure that starts first of all in the head.”

When to visit

The Valentiny Foundation is located at 34 Route du Vin, Remerschen. It’s open Wednesday to Friday from 15.00 to 18.00 and Saturday and Sunday from 14.00 to 18.00. You can find more information on the exhibition and temporary ones here.

Read about the Biodiversum in our Architectural Icons series here.


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