Heatherwick Studio and Barcode Architects Reveal the Design of Utrecht’s New City Center Hub

Heatherwick Studio and Barcode Architects have been selected to design a new hub for culture, work and leisure in the Jaarbeursplein central square in Utrecht, Netherlands. The project aims to respond to the city’s diverse population and to bring a sense of warmth and fun to the square, according to the architects. Nicknamed Oopen, the building’s design integrates a colorful collection of cylinders that stand out against the backdrop of the neighborhood. The team has partnered with Edge, a sustainable real estate development company, to help bring the vision to life. Construction is set to start in 2025 and the building will be delivered in 2028.

The rounded shape of the building allows for open access from all sides, allowing all the varied facilities and services to be equally accessible to the public. The design also provides space for a wide range of activities, from sports and cultural events, to spaces for start-up offices and pop-up cafes and a rooftop restaurant with views across Utrecht’s skyline.

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© Pixelflakes for Heatherwick Studio

With a focus on healthy urban living, the Municipality of Utrecht aims to increase and encourage the city’s creative and entrepreneurial energy. Some of the proposed facilities, such as the indoor urban sports area and the skate park, are planned to work together with the public square to promote active recreation. A large public hall will host cultural events and exhibitions, while a collection of flexible kiosks will provide a variety of services, from gastronomic experiences to charity pop-ups. A nightclub doubles as a daytime dance school and practice space for DJs, and a bicycle shed and mobility hub will provide a natural nexus for anyone passing through the Netherlands’ busiest train station located nearby.

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The new cultural center hopes to become a vibrant location, bringing together people of different cultures, generations and communities, as a reflection of Utrecht’s diversity. Designed as a system of parts and programs, the building offers a flexible space for various interactions and change encounters. Multiple landscaped terraces, some of which will be reserved for wildlife, further enhance the design. An adaptive timber and steel structure is employed to ensure long-term flexibility, providing options to reconfigure the inside spaces. The project also aims for a Net Zero Carbon status, hoping to become the first zero emissions mixed-use high-rise building in the country.

Heatherwick Studio and Barcode Architects Reveal the Design of Utrecht’s New City Center Hub - Image 3 of 3
© Heatherwick Studio

The leadership team challenged us to create a special place that reflects the urgent need for healthier cities that bring people back together again. The result isn’t just a design for another office building, but a thrilling opportunity to activate the square and create a surprising, new public place for this historic city. - Thomas Heatherwick, founder and design director at Heatherwick Studio

Heatherwick Studio has recently revealed their first public library design, planned for Howard County Libraries in Maryland, United States. The internationally renowned office has also unveiled a project that aims to transform an old desalination plant into the centerpiece of a new cultural district in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Another project, the Toranomon-Azabudai in Tokyo, Japan, is currently under construction and it has been included in ArchDaily’s list of most anticipated buildings expected to open to the public in 2023.

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Cite: Maria-Cristina Florian. "Heatherwick Studio and Barcode Architects Reveal the Design of Utrecht’s New City Center Hub" 12 Apr 2023. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/999348/heatherwick-studio-and-barcode-architects-reveal-the-design-of-utrechts-new-city-center-hub> ISSN 0719-8884

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