Will Mecanoo’s “Blue District” in Utrecht Promote a Generation of Urban Centenarians?
That’s the goal, at least. Mecanoo has released designs for a large-scale development in Utrecht inspired by “blue zone” regions – areas where residents tend live atypically long and healthy lives. Currently there are only five recognized blue zones worldwide: Sardinia, Nicoya, Loma Linda, Okinawa, and Ikaria.
Investigation into these zones revealed nine shared characteristics which Mecanoo have essentialized to four urban design concepts that define the Blue District development: community, mobility, healthy diet, and meaningfulness & relaxation.
The masterplan transforms a former marshalling yard of the Dutch Railways into a new residential neighborhood. The design includes plans for 2,600 homes, a park, school, supermarket and other mixed-use facilities.
The “blue zone” concepts are concentrated in the transformation of the existing CAB building, located at the northwestern edge of the development and directly south of the Utrecht-Zuilen station. Within the building, a large food hall will form an interior street offering healthy eating options and connecting residents to the Cartesiuspark at the center.
A nine-storey apartment complex will be added to the top of the building, making it one of the largest buildings in the area and emphasizing it as a landmark. Undulating balconies set the new addition apart from the existing rectilinear structure and creates a distinct architectural language for the neighborhood.
Cycling and pedestrian access are central to the 13 hectare masterplan, with all urban amenities located within close range to residential areas. The neighborhood will encourage sustainability, both in terms of green technology and in shared resources.
The Cartesiusdriehoek Blue District will offer a variety of housing typologies, with nearly a quarter of all housing intended for rental social housing. Construction is expected to start in 2020.