Utrecht, the Netherlands

Innovative and Collaborative Solution

In what ways is the initiative innovative?

The encircled canal has some quays with special wall vegetation. In the new walls along the canal, we kept openings in the concrete wall to allow water from the streets to reach the new walls, thus stimulating new wall vegetation. We also made innovative flowery foreshores and fauna exit sites with local wood.
We made a bridge for pedestrians with trees, thus making it possible to reach the other side of the central station in a green way. And on this side, we are adding more green to a very dense area by making a building with trees and other green all over the facade and on the roofs. On the 7th floor a public green area will provide new residents with a new park (wonderwoods.com).

One particularly innovative project is the Fish doorbell in the encircled canal. Every spring, fish swim right through Utrecht, looking for a place to spawn and reproduce. Some swim all the way to Germany. There is a problem, however: they often have to wait a long time at the Weerdsluis lock on the west side of the inner city, as the lock rarely opens in spring. We have come up with a solution: the fish doorbell! An underwater camera has been set up at the lock, and the live feed is streamed to the homepage. If you see a fish, press the digital fish doorbell. The lock operator is sent a signal and can open the lock if there are enough fish.

How is the initiative supported by collaborative working across disciplines and sectors?          

The construction of the new Stationsgebied is a close collaboration between the Municipality of Utrecht and private parties such as Klepierre, NS, ProRail and Jaarbeurs.

The quality of life and safety are improved. There is more space for culture, housing, recreation, stores, and improved accessibility. The encircled canal adds value to the liveability of the Central Station area. And at the same time, we are making the area more sustainable: more water and greenery, less asphalt, more space for public transport, bicycles and pedestrians, and energy-efficient buildings.

In order to improve the canal (Dutch: singel) as a natural connection, a group of enthusiastic residents has been active in the foundation ‘Greening Singel 030’ since 2013. They help and contribute ideas in making the canal greener and more attractive for plants and animals. For example, flowery foreshores and fauna exit sites have been created.

In the procurement for Wonderwoods we used selection criteria on health. These criteria are cross cutting many disciplines and force sectors to work together to find the most healthy solutions. We judged the projects on the added value of the building for the health of future residents. We also judged how the building added to the healthy environment for citizens living in the Central Station district. The project of Wonderwoods was rewarded the winner.

How does the initiative demonstrate evidence of community support?          

A group of enthusiastic residents has been active in the initiative ‘Greening Singel 030’ since 2013. They help and contribute ideas in making the canal greener and more attractive for plants and animals. They also help with several maintenance works like planting flowering bulbs and collecting litter. Together with a farmer (boer Dirk) with a horse they help collect the hay of the grasslands.

The construction of the new Stationsgebied is also a close collaboration between the Municipality of Utrecht and private parties such as Klepierre, NS, ProRail and Jaarbeurs.