Characteristic urban blocks for Merwede Utrecht

Commissioned by Greystar, we have designed two building blocks with up to 1,068 rental housing units within the green car-free urban district of Merwede Utrecht. We have translated the qualities from the urban plan of the municipality and Bura Urbanism into an attractive living and working environment. The two characteristic city blocks consist of a rich array of buildings with lively plinths, innovative mobility facilities and plenty of room for greenery.

Coulisse city: unity in diversity
The two urban blocks comprise 25 different buildings that break down the scale of the blocks. By creating a hierarchy between the buildings and allowing the higher facades to recede, a characteristic cityscape is created that is closely related to its surroundings. Relatively simple buildings form the basis and are complemented by solid buildings with a strong identity and special buildings which are smaller and more abundant. The use of materials, colors and fa├žade composition give the buildings a distinct identity while maintaining a consistent urban fabric. The rich palette of facade materials includes brick, natural stone, aluminum, reclaimed plastic, wood, sheet metal and profiled steel plate. To enhance the diversity between the buildings, we as coordinating architect have teamed up with Zoetmulder architects for a number of buildings.

Vibrant neighborhood with amenities
The blocks combine compact, high-quality rental apartments in the social, mid-rent and market segments with a high level of services and amenities. Mixing these housing types with community facilities creates a sustainable mix of students, young professionals, seniors, families and singles. Hospitality, a supermarket, retail and office functions and high-quality mobility facilities in the plinths contribute to liveliness on street level.

Shared facilities strengthen social connection
The apartments are situated around two lush green courtyards designed by Burobol. In addition to their ecological and water-storage function, the courtyard gardens contribute to strengthening the social cohesion between residents and neighbors. For example, the courtyard garden of one block has a central patio with surrounding collective facilities such as workplaces and sports facilities and bicycle parking. The other block’s garden stimulates encounters with a large vegetable garden and greenhouse. This courtyard garden is accessible through a strikingly designed block opening that marks the mobility hub at the neighborhood square. This is where the block accommodates parking and mobility facilities for several residential blocks in the southern Merwedekanaal zone.

Sustainable living environment
Greystar invests in a durable relationship with its users by remaining involved as owner and property manager. In the Merwede cooperation agreement, an additional sustainability ambition has been established on top of the sustainability requirements of the building code. The sustainable mix of housing types along with a lively plinth, innovative mobility facilities and a comfortable green environment, create a resilient neighborhood ready for future challenges.

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