Commissioned by project developer VORM, in collaboration with WE architects, EVA architects, and ZUS, we designed a sustainable residential neighborhood in Leidsche Rijn Centrum Oost in Utrecht; Roots. Roots consists of a wide variety of housing typologies for different target groups: from studios and single-family homes to urban villa apartments built with a wooden shell. Completion of the 220 homes is scheduled for 2024.
A rich residential program
The development pays great attention to the quality of life of the future residents. Roots' buildings are characterized by their robust character and detailed finishes with bay windows, loggias, and porches. This gives the streets an urban, lively atmosphere through which one directly experiences the proximity to the center of Utrecht. The new residential buildings will have a balanced mix of target groups, thanks to a wide variety of housing typologies.
Future residents can meet in characterful, collective inner gardens that will also be provided with natural play elements for children. All apartment buildings have covered bicycle racks and two compact underground garages have been created for parking cars, which are completely hidden from sight. The routing through the collective inner garden and the informal transitions between private and collective spaces contribute to the special role that the outdoor space plays in this plan and contributes to the residents' connection with their surroundings.
Optimal sustainable design
The homes in Roots are being developed in a circular fashion and are healthy, comfortable, functional, always easily changeable, and, above all, affordable. Building materials are given a second life. This is expressed in the reuse of wood and plastics from wheelie bins and crates from Utrecht for furnishing elements of the inner garden. Pergolas are made from scrap metal, paths are made from semi-paved olivine for the direct binding of CO2. Circular concrete from New Horizon is also used. In addition, the realization process will be as CO2-neutral as possible, with a wooden frame that will maximize the environmental benefits of construction in several ways. The energy-neutral homes will be delivered with an average GPR score of 8.3. The entire plan will receive a materials passport in Madaster.
Climate adaptation & biodiversity
In Roots, landscape, and architecture are harmoniously brought together. Together with the gardens, green roofs, and facades form a balanced system of water management that anticipates climate change. With various nesting opportunities in the facades, Roots also contributes to improving biodiversity in the environment. The interior gardens, with their native plantings, also attract butterflies, bees, and other insects, which in turn attract birds. Here, animals find a natural habitat within the city. The green environment has a cooling effect, the plants capture particulate matter and muffle noise: all effects that contribute to a pleasant living environment. All homes are carefully designed with the most sustainable materials and equipped with a collective climate system, which cleverly anticipates the use of solar energy and uses a neighborhood battery. This smart system ensures that the homes provide more energy than they consume.
Characterful architecture connected to nature and history
The area of over 9,700 m² literally forms the connection between the old and new Utrecht. In addition, the connection with nature and connection with the history of Utrecht is at the basis of the Roots design. The collaborating design firms have interpreted these themes in their own way. This results in a varied and lively streetscape of nature-inclusive buildings that subtly refer to the recognizable Utrecht architecture. Various elements of the original Utrecht river and production landscapes have also been brought back in the lush courtyard gardens with native plantings and water features.