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By 2050, almost 90% of Europeans will live in a city. Given the increasing density of our urban environments, how can we maximize our exposure to fresh air and green spaces? Wonderwoods is our answer to that question. This non-identical pair of towers combines high-density living and working with a vertical park, adding a verdant, outdoorsy dimension to the buzzing heart of Utrecht.

Wonderwoods is a co-production from MVSA Architects and Stefano Boeri Architetti. Each office designed one of the towers along the same vegetation-rich, transparent and sustainable lines, with the resulting buildings – related yet different – boosting the diversity and dynamism of the project.

Location
Utrecht

Project completion
2022

Client
G&S Vastgoed, KondorWessels Projecten

Building surface
65,000 m2

Solutions
Mixed Use, Offices, Public, Residential

Building a mindset

Today, 54% of the global population live in urban areas. By 2050 this number is expected to reach 85% in the developed world (source: United Nations: World Urbanization Prospects). As our planet undergoes the largest wave of urban growth in history, we urgently need solutions to help nature flourish in the city and restore our connection with it.

Wonderwoods creates a healthy urban microclimate in the heart of Utrecht, building a harmonious balance between nature and the urban environment.

Trees and plants on and around the towers will breathe in carbon dioxide and other harmful gases and breathe out oxygen. They will also absorb pollutants such as dust, pollen and exhaust fumes, massively improving the air quality.

The trees will also reduce noise pollution and energy usage in the homes by providing shade and lowering the temperatures in summer. In winter, they’ll shield the buildings – and streets below – from winds.

One concept Two towers

Instead of a single, massive volume, two volumes are created.

The two towers are based on the idea of the relationship between nature and technology. They are individually distinct but like-minded.

Wonderwoods is more than just two buildings, it’s a blueprint for harmonious cohabitation with nature in the heart of a city. The ultimate goal is to encourage a healthy balanced lifestyle.

“Green oasis in the middle of the city”

Variations on a theme

A dynamic relationship between the two towers animates the design. Stefano Boeri Architetti’s Tower is defined by angular forms and repeating horizontal lines, whereas MVSA Architects’ tower features smoothly curving corners and a vertical rhythm. Both towers share abundant green elements and a clear structure of terrace-like, stepped levels, clearly articulating the various aspects of the program – offices, residential and public and commercial spaces – over a combined total floor space of 65,000 m2.

Tower I

Tower I is ‘introvert’. It is covered in trees, creating what architect Stefano Boeri, the Milan-based architecture firm renowned worldwide for its innovative Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), describes as ‘muted’ architecture. Nature is surrounding the architecture.

The façade of the around 90-metre tower will host around 360 trees and 9,640 shrubs and flowering plants: the equivalent to 1 hectare of woodland. Annually, it will absorb around 5,400kg of CO2 and produce around 41,400kg of oxygen.

The Boeri tower is a model for a sustainable residential building; a project for metropolitan reforestation that contributes to the regeneration of the environment and biodiversity while reducing urban sprawl.

The tower is an Urban rising from the ground, respecting and enhancing the sizes of the building envelop. It’s four overlaid facades define, in fact, a rotation of the body which, arising, detaches progressively itself from the alignment of the Croeselaan street pathway to place itself according to an East/West orientation. The facades of this tower are mutant as for chromatic composition and variation of biological mass thickness, varying according to the season and sunlight incidence.

Tower II

Tower II, the MVSA tower, is the opposite. Here, the verdant greenery is located on the inside and from there, goes outside. This makes it more ‘extravert’ in character.

Our approximately 70-metre tower was designed with a greenhouse aesthetic in mind and features many (winter) gardens and naturally-lit atriums. Green emerges from the inside-out: gigantic windows open on summer days to allow the nature inside to connect with the nature outside.

The MVSA Tower is finished in sleek, tactile and sustainable materials, with ceramic elements nodding to Utrecht’s rich craft history. The staggered height of the building creates a spectacular 2,200 m2 terrace nurturing an abundance of trees and plants. This luxuriant green oasis moulds the experience of the building inside, too. Wonderwoods houses several winter gardens of which some have folding doors, allowing them to be opened up to the outdoors. Residents have access to a 200-m2 public greenhouse and office workers can enjoy a 12-m-high atrium on the second floor. The inviting plinth on which the building sits houses a variety of strategically placed facilities, creating a sense of scale and erasing the border between public and private. An ‘experience gallery’, bike-hire shop, tea garden, healthy snack bar, organic supermarket, wellness gym and live-in ateliers encircle Wonderwoods’ façade.

“The soul of this project is its concern for the wellbeing of occupants and visitors”

Healthy urbanism

With its combination of exciting and functional architecture, a high sustainability index and luxuriant greenery, Wonderwoods will define the new area around the Jaarbeurs designated as the Healthy Urban Quarter (HUQ) by the rapidly growing city of Utrecht. Located on the Jaarbeurs Boulevard, which is traversed by 1.5 million pedestrians annually, Wonderwoods form an important visual connection between the large-scale development around Central Station and the more intimate dimensions of the Beurskwartier.

Apart from apartments and offices Wonderwoods will house healthy restaurants, shops, a fitness area, education facilities, bike parking places and a public leisure space and presents itself as the new healthy centre of Utrecht.

Playlab

Playlab is an astounding active experience for the general public, playfully triggering the senses and powered by cutting-edge technology. Immersed by highly sensory and interactive art exhibitions and installations, audiences discover the impact of emerging technologies and scientific breakthroughs on their life.

PlayLab a cutting-edge ArtScience Museum, wherein art, science and the public all come together and experience this testing ground for new inventions and playground for the future.

Organic architecture

Wonderwoods will be a shining example of the architecture of tomorrow.

It will be built with nature in mind. Ecological principles will be woven throughout the fabric and structure of the two towers.

The vegetation provides natural shade. Trees and shrubs on the roofs and balconies keeps the heat out during summer – and in during winter.

Ample daylight is optimised thanks to the smart use of glass surfaces in the architecture: areas that require little daylight have been placed in the centre of the complex.

The vegetation throughout acts as a natural sound barrier to foster a calm, relaxed atmosphere.

Green transportation by a mobility concept for users of the building is also integral to our concept. We will therefore offer together with We Drive Solar the use of electric cars, e-bikes and bicycles and provide ample parking and charging stations.

Planetary and human health

Wonderwoods’  lush gardens and vertical forest allow some 10,000 trees, shrubs and flowers to flourish – the equivalent of an entire hectare of woodland. The greenery absorbs 5,400 kg of CO2 a year, while simultaneously producing 41,400 kg of oxygen.

Wonderwoods is sustainable in other ways, too. With the aimed WELL Building Standard™ certification for residential and BREAAM Excellent certification for offices, the building supports both planetary and human health. Its future-proof design is flexible and adaptable, ensuring a long life

Project credits

  • Project title
  • Wonderwoods
  • Design approach
  • Green at heart - in downtown Utrecht, an asymmetrical pair of towers for living, working and relaxing form a green island in a rising urban environment.
  • Solutions
  • Mixed Use
  • Offices
  • Public
  • Residential
  • Expertise
  • Architecture
  • Status
  • In progress
  • Building surface
  • 65,000 m2
  • Country
  • The Netherlands
  • City
  • Utrecht
  • Start project
  • 2017
  • Completion
  • 2022
  • Client
  • G&S Vastgoed, KondorWessels Projecten

Awards

News & Publications

Green at heart

Green at heart

http://www.wonderwoods.com/

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