MVRDV has unveiled designs to transform the underutilized area on the west side of Utrecht’s central station into “a garden in the city” with a new, green-roofed Jaarbeurs convention center. The redeveloped events venue will be at the the heart of a 600,000-square-meter masterplan. Created to achieve BREEAM Excellent certification, the project has been fittingly named a “city oasis” by Jaarbeurs CEO Albert Arp for its inclusion of accessible green space, the beautification of the streetscape and the focus on sustainable design.

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rendering of people walking through plant-filled park

Developed in collaboration with SITE Urban Development, the masterplan for the Jaarbeursdistrict will redefine the area as one presently dominated by cars into a more pedestrian-friendly destination. The new design will introduce a car-free street — the “Jaarbeurs Boulevard” — that will serve as the neighborhood’s new backbone and provide access to the new Jaarbeurs convention center as well as create a direct link from the station to the shops and restaurants along the Merwede Canal and areas beyond.

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diagram of sustainable energy systems in a green neighborhood

In addition to the inclusion of sustainable technologies, the new Jaarbeurs venue will feature an accessible green roof that descends to the ground level via cascading terraces that can be reached from all four sides. The spacious green roof will house a rooftop park with a “carpet of programmable ‘squares’ and gardens” to host a wide variety of programming and renewable systems, such as water storage and energy generation. Construction of the Jaarbeurs events venue is expected to start in 2023.

before and after diagram showing park spaces in neighborhood becoming green spaces and water features in a car-free neighborhood

“It is rare that a private party not only invests in its own building but also includes the environment in its plans,” said Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “This masterplan shows that Jaarbeurs is passionate about the city and dares to think outside the box. This is desperately needed, because this underutilized area has the potential to become a fantastic neighborhood with the venue as its core — an attractive green ‘hill’ in the city. The plan is also an opportunity to significantly improve the city and properly connect the center, the station area, the Merwede Canal zone and the Kanaleneiland.”


Images via MVRDV