Merwedekanaal zone development
The municipality of Utrecht has drawn up an urban masterplan for the former defense area along the Merwedekanaal which aims to transform the old industrial site into a new lively urban district of 10,000 new homes. The Defensieterrein will be the first part of this project with 600 homes, facilities and an attractive city park. The convenient location, close to the center of the city, the good connection to Central Station and the presence of iconic buildings with an industrial character make this site a very valuable location. These qualities are integrated in the new OKRA design.
Healthy urban living
Based on the principals of the Healthy Living, OKRA’s proposal for the design of the public realm focuses on enhancing factors that determine health, such as air quality, noise pollution, safety, inspiration, happiness and an active lifestyle. As integral part of the Healthy City, public realm has been designed to give priority to pedestrians and cyclists while accommodating a wide range of activities for all ages, with sports, play, leisure and urban farming. The distinct typologies of public spaces within the plan highlight the area’s unique qualities and provide a rich gradient of public, semi-public and private zones. A continuous public route extending to the adjacent development areas, called the ‘boardwalk’, becomes the link between the new neighbourhood and the city-scale park along the Merwedekanaal.
To be energy-neutral and future-proof, the new neighbourhood will be climate-adaptive, based on the principles of circularity and resilience. OKRA has developed an integrated water management strategy linked to the regional scale system, intended to maximize water retention and facilitate the reuse of rainwater. A new biotope for the area has been studied, with the aim of enriching biodiversity and compensating the environmental alterations due to the urban expansion. This is beneficial for a healthy ecosystem that is less vulnerable to plants diseases.