Public Space Merwede

Utrecht, NL

Type Landscape design
Design 2022-2023
Location Utrecht, The Netherlands
Size 24 ha
Client Gemeente Utrecht
I.c.w. Bureau Stadsnatuur, MOVE Mobility, AM, Boelens de Gruyter, BPD, Greystar, G&S Vastgoed, Janssen de Jong, Lingotto, Round Hill Capital, 3T Vastgoed, Synchroon
Team Eric-Jan Pleijster, Brigitta van Weeren, Mikel Orbegozo, Ulrike Jägert, Yueying Wan, Nerea Febre Diciena, Charlie Roelse, Sara Ingignoli, Austin van Beek, Lucio Fiorentino, Nastya Vashchenko, Roberto Coccia, Audrey Man
Urban plan BURA, OKRA,

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 in 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.

Merwede is to become an inviting, green, and lively urban district. For the landscape design, LOLA teamed up with Bureau Stadsnatuur to work in close collaboration with the Utrecht Municipality, BURA, and other stakeholders. The main focus of the project is to maximize urban nature in a car-free public space that prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists. The preliminary landscape design’s starting point is green; paving is only where necessary, making it an exceptionally green district.

Biodiversity
For the dense urban district of Merwede, the urban city nature area is designed as a home to a succession of diverse biotopes, rich biodiversity, and robust green structures. Wealth and diversity of species are important. We, therefore, ensure to recognize this by creating the right conditions, such as sunlight, wind, and soil quality. By taking the different biotopes into account, we allow the different biological diverse conditions and landscapes in Merwede to thrive and grow in their celestial elements.

Merwede spaces
The diverse Merwede’s outdoor space consists of playful neighborhood squares, captivating courtyard gardens, the relaxing and natural Merwede Park, the Europalaan, and the meandering trail. Cars usually take up most of the space on standard streets. In the car-free Merwede, we utilize that space for nature, people, and water storage.

Merwede’s carefully designed new public space design turns the surrounding building greenery into a new type of street called “the wondering trail”— which winds intuitively through the area without excess rules and measures. The transitional areas, where the public space and inner gardens meet, are crucial in ensuring a coherent connection.

Biodiversity found in Merwede’s biotopes
In the high-density urban district of Merwede, this urban city nature area is home to a succession of diverse biotopes, rich biodiversity, and robust green structures. With the buzzing of bees, the rustling of a hedgehog and the chirping of the house sparrow, you imagine yourself in Merwede in nature. The ‘Merwede biotope’ is a sequence of different ecotopes that are linked to the target species.

Abundance and diversity of species are important, and we ensure to recognize this by creating the right conditions such as sunlight, wind, and soil quality. By taking the different biotopes into account, we allow the different biological diverse conditions and landscapes in Merwede to thrive and grow in their celestial elements.

Preliminary design public space of Merwede

Brigitta van Weeren of LOLA: “What makes Merwede special is the scale on which we implement nature-inclusive design, climate adaptation, and social design in the city. We approach the public space not just as a collection of streets, squares, and parks but also as an urban nature area that creates an thriving living environment for animals and humans in the city.”

View from the new bridge looking onto the linear park space along the canal

Bringing biodiversity in Merwede focusing on the six target species

The green wandering trail as meandering routes through the area

Impression of a green neighbourhood square

The three ambitions for Merwede: urban nature, active public space and intuitive navigation

Active use of public space in Merwede

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