In car-free Merwede, biodiversity and people come first

22 May 2023

The future of the car-free city is embedded in nature

What will the public space look like with no more cars? In the preliminary design of Merwede, the starting point is green; paving is only where necessary. As one of the largest car-free inner-city neighborhood projects in the Netherlands, there is much more space for biodiversity, urban rewilding, and social activities than if the public space was used for roads, crossings, and car parking. In the car-free Merwede, LOLA utilizes the space for nature, people, and water storage.

The future of the city is embedded in nature. With nature being a precondition for healthy urban living, Utrecht’s Merwede is to become a high-density urban district, with 6.000 houses on 24 hectares in the southwest of Utrecht. Focusing on public space as ‘Merwede biotope’ developed by OKRA, LOLA Landscape Architects aims to design ample green space for biodiversity, sustainable living, and relaxation in an attractive environment.

For the landscape design of this new nature-inclusive city district, LOLA teamed up with Bureau Stadsnatuur, MOVE Mobility, and in close collaboration with the Utrecht Municipality, BURA, and other stakeholders. The main focus is to maximize urban nature in a car-free public space that prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists. Merwede is to become an inviting, green, and lively public space.

Client: Gemeente Utrecht
I.c.w. Bureau Stadsnatuur, MOVE Mobility, AMBoelens de GruyterBPDGreystarG&S VastgoedJanssen de JongLingottoRound Hill Capital3T VastgoedSynchroon
Urban plan: BURA

Read more about this project

Bringing biodiversity in Merwede focusing on the six target species

Merwede as an inclusive social space where people from different generations and backgrounds meet

The green meandering Merwede wandering trail v.s. regular car-oriented public space

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