With no less than five national landscapes within the provincial borders, the province of Utrecht is rich in landscape qualities. At the same time, it’s a densely populated growth region that is constantly evolving. To balance these two characteristics, we have developed the Quality Guide for Utrecht Landscapes. In this guide, we take the reader through a factual analysis and various stories that shed light on the most important aspects of the landscape, delving into the history of the current landscape.

the Netherlands, Utrecht Province
Project area
1385 km²
Province of Utrecht

Defining qualities

The Quality Guide builds on the 2004 Nota Ruimte spatial planning memorandum. The memorandum itself designates twenty National Landscapes and provides a concise and powerful description of what makes each landscape unique, identifying their core qualities. However, qualities like “openness,” “peat meadow character,” and “coherent system” are not immediately practical.



A long-term commitment

The original quality guide was drafted by us in 2010. Over the past decade, pressure on the landscape has steadily increased. Urban and suburban expansion, climate adaptation, and energy transition require more space. Therefore, in the past year, we conducted a reassessment. The central question was whether these developments can still be integrated in a way that respects and enhances the core qualities or whether the pressure on the landscape has become so great that these ambitions have become incompatible.

The Quality Guide for Utrecht Landscapes defines the qualities of the different landscapes in the Province of Utrecht and provides information and inspiration on how spatial developments can be incorporated in a way that enhances these qualities.

Creator of meaningful places

The Transition Landscape

Research revealed that since the release of the first version of the quality guide, a significant shift has occurred. The pressure on the landscape has become so great, and the need for transition of energy, climate and agricultural systems so urgent, that it has become unavoidable to allow core qualities to yield under the programmatic pressure of those transitions. This conclusion calls for additional directions, and in the reassessment, we focus not on dispersion but on bringing together these various programmatic elements in a new “transition landscape” that has combines these demands in a new landscape with its own new qualities.


The updated quality guide offers solutions for an integrated area approach. It provides guidance through exemplary elaborations, where clustering takes place along landscape axes and building lines as much as possible. This way, combining the existing challenges of integrating agroforestry, solar panels, wooded areas, space for agricultural transition, and additional housing in small cores can create a varied landscape.


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