Paul de Ruiter


A sustainable, vibrant city neighborhood in full development

PDR 06 Nicoya blok D binnentuin
PDR 03 Nicoya blok D Binnentuin
PDR 04 Nicoya blok A3 binnentuin
PDR 05 Nicoya blok A2 straat
PDR 07 Nicoya blok F straat
PDR 01 Nicoya Overzicht zuid west
PDR 02 Nicoya Plankaart Mecanoo
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In the lively heart of Utrecht, a new sustainable and green urban oasis called Cartesius is being developed. The Utrecht city district will consist of a mix of sustainable single-family homes, apartments, and penthouses with pleasant public spaces. A circular economy is of great importance with an eye for the future. Nature with high biodiversity is also highly valued. Paul de Ruiter Architects is responsible for the design of the Nicoya sub-area.

Housing, Socially sustainable, Energy neutral

A prominent location in Cartesius

The Nicoya sub-area is located in a prominent location in Cartesius and has a beautiful connection to the Cartesius Park. It is designed as a semi-open building block that opens to the east side towards the green Cartesius Park, allowing residents to walk directly from the park to their collective inner garden. The building block is divided into 4 residential blocks with 213 apartments and 25 ground-level homes. Each block has its own architecture and characteristics that together form a beautiful whole. The homes have a direct connection to a large green inner garden. This inner garden is raised so that residents' cars and bicycles can be parked out of sight at ground level. The oval holes over the parking layer provide a direct connection to the inner garden with daylight and ventilation to the parking layer.

A lot of attention to biodiversity
The collective inner garden has an informal transition with the private gardens and can be seen by residents as an extension of their private outdoor space. Around these private outdoor spaces, a modest fence or vegetation has been placed for privacy. In this way, the gardens become part of the area, which creates connectedness between the residents. In the collective inner garden, residents can exercise, relax, and meet friends or fellow residents. The design also takes into account biodiversity, providing housing for bats, swifts, house sparrows, and bees.

Connection with industrial past
The architecture is in line with the area's industrial past and at the same time gets a new identity with light, restrained colors and as much glass as possible. On the street side, there are sturdy blocks with an urban character and a mix of materials (brick, composite, aluminum, and wood). The inner garden facades will have a somewhat softer look with lots of greenery on the facades.

Each block will have its own appearance with a unique character: one is tough with a play of balconies above each other and the other is sleeker in design with green facades. Together, this forms a beautiful unity, connected by the green collective inner garden.

Project details


Name and location Cartesius, Utrecht
Project description Appartments, townhouses, hospitality and parking garage
Sustainability Energy neutraal EPC = 0.0 and the MPG 0.43


Client Ballast Nedam Development
Design Paul de Ruiter Architects
Project architect Raymond van Sabben and Mark Spijkerman
Contractor Ballast Nedam West
Building services engineering Traject, H.Ek
Structural engineering Peutz
Landscape architect Donkergroen
Constructor Pieters Bouwtechniek

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