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Merwede · Utrecht, the Netherlands

An urban model for the cities of the future

Merwedekanaal, Zone 5 Merwedekanaal, Zone 5

The rapid growth of Utrecht requires highly sustainable development that can accommodate contemporary lifestyles and address the challenges posed by climate change. The eastern flank of the Kanaleneiland is currently undergoing redevelopment with these crucial goals in mind. Covering an expansive area of 24 hectares and expected to house approximately 12,000 residents, Merwedekanaalzone, sub-area 05, currently stands as the largest development zone. Given the size of the project, and the ambitious objectives set by the municipality of Utrecht, a unique opportunity arises to create an innovative district unlike any other.

Utrecht, the Netherlands
2017 - 2021
Project area
24 ha
Owners collective Merwede consisting of: Janssen de Jong Projectontwikkeling, BPD, Ramphastos, investor Roto Smeets location, M7, VVE Merwede and Municipality of Utrecht
BURA urbanism, Stad2, Goudappel Coffeng, Merosch, Skonk

Collaborative approach

Situated in the southwestern part of the city and being well connected to Utrecht Central Station, Kanaleneiland holds a central position in addressing the city’s growing housing requirements. Through extensive collaboration with the municipality, the multiple landowners, various experts and stakeholders, we have outlined an ambitious plan for sub-area 05, which is planned to accommodate approximately 6,000 new dwellings. The design of the public spaces not only seek to capture the industrial essence of the island but also highlights its climate adaptive and innovative character.

Creator of meaningful places

Embracing the principles of Healthy City

The design process has been deeply rooted in the principles of “healthy city”, promoting an active lifestyle and social inclusion while continuing to address climate adaptation and sustainable goals. The remarkable choice of shaping a car-free district allows  the allocation of extra space for greenery and slow mobility, making Merwede an exceptionally green and nature-inclusive neighbourhood. The robust green and blue framework that we have defined for the district becomes the foundation for a climate resilience strategy that  effectively addresses urban heat island reduction and storm water management.


The Merwede biotope

We introduced the concept of the “Merwede Biotope” for the district, a carefully crafted ecosystem that caters to the different zones within the area and allows for flora and fauna to thrive naturally. Our approach to shaping the public space considers both the spatial needs of the new inhabitants and the requirements of the local wildlife, always ensuring safe passages and shelter options for the animals in the area. The aspiration is that in Merwede, people, animals and plants can coexist harmoniously, fostering a relationship built on mutual respect.

Water infiltration through green areas
Emergency water storage and infiltration in depressions
Level differences to create opporunities for play and ecology

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