Today’s Solutions: October 19, 2021

The Netherlands is well-known for being the ultimate biking country, and, today, pedestrianized city centers are also the norm in many of the country’s urban areas.

Still, in the country’s major cities, vehicles still tend to dictate the design of most public spaces. In an effort to change that, Dutch architecture firm Marco Broekman has revealed plans for a new neighborhood where cars are shared amongst households in Utrecht – the country’s fourth-largest city.

Named Merwede, the 12,000-person neighborhood will feature 6,000 residential units, as well as public spaces, courtyards, and rooftops with a focus on pedestrians and cyclists, and with public transportation that connects to all parts of the Netherlands. A fleet of shared cars and bicycles will be available to everyone living there. Instead of one (or multiple) cars per household, filling the streets with congestion and parking spaces, Merwede will have one car for every three households.

This design for Merwede will transform what is currently a business park full of offices into a complete neighborhood. Each building block will have a courtyard garden and a new park will provide a walking area along the canal.

As part of the plan’s sustainability efforts, rooftops on the buildings will be dressed with greenery, accompanied by solar panels. Also, water from the nearby canal will be used in “the largest underground heat and storage facility in the Netherlands” to heat and cool the district.

The firm says it will be “almost energy-neutral,” and specialists are researching how the district can become circular as well. While more than this one neighborhood needs to adapt to the challenging trend of a fast-urbanizing world, the innovative design builds a comprehensive roadmap for other urban areas around the world to follow.

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