Circular Beurskwartier Utrecht

The next few years, the city center of Utrecht will expand at the west side of Utrecht Centraal. The Beurskwartier, the area around the Jaarbeurs, will be the core of the new city center. Within this development there is a high ambitition for circular strategies. The high urban density and the lack of space in this area require a different perspective on city, landscape, nature and public space. In contrary to the traditional spatial configuration, the team envisions intensive, vertical and hybrid forms for the Beurskwartier. The public space and buildings can be seen as machines, that use the various flows within the area in a smart way. These machines can clean, produce or reuse the different flows.

The team proposes three types of landscape machines: productive greenhouses, vertical gardens and pocketparks. These machines are always part of the network of public spaces and form productive places with public quality. The proposal includes four greenhouses: a restaurant greenhouse, a water greenhouse, a brewery greenhouse and a botanical greenhouse. In the restaurant greenhouse, organic waste and rain water is reused, and food is grown. In the basement of the restaurant, coffee grounds from the Beurskwartier is used to grow mushrooms. In the water greenhouse, water from the Merwedekanaal is cleaned using waterplants and fish and vegetables are grown using acquaponics. The brewery greenhouse, located on top of the Jaarbeurs, uses hop that is grown in the vertical gardens and collects rain water. The botanical greenhouse contains a rich collection of plants and can be used as a winter garden, a community center and a place for interaction and experiments. It is located in one of the new parks of the Beurskwartier.

The vertical gardens on the facades of the buildings can collect, clean and retain rain water. These landscape machines provide access to the second ground level and provide space to grow herbs, vegetables and hop. These plants can improve air quality, especially at higher altitudes. A series of pocket parks captures rainwater and provides variety in the street pattern of the Beurskwartier. The pocketparks are small oases with shadow, coolness and the sound of falling water. The proposed landscape machines are strongly related to the network of public spaces. Besides the functionality of the machines, its visibility in the public space will contribute to reciprocal behaviour. People are more inclined to separate their waste, if they can see where its used for and if they can identify with it. Hence, appreciation for waste will change behaviour.

Utrecht, circular public space design, commissioned by Gemeente Utrecht, Provincie Utrecht, Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu en Ministerie van Economische Zaken, i.c.w. marco.broekman, public space design, landscape architecture, urbanism, circular city, circular economy, landscape machines, Flux landscape architecture, Utrecht, 2017