A healthy living environment positively affects the quality of people's lives. The City of Utrecht aims to create such a 'healthy urban living' environment for its citizens by collaborating with different stakeholders and focusing on areas like innovation, health economy and infrastructure. Healthy Urban Living is also about creating an environment in which sustainable and innovative entrepreneurship can flourish and projects can emerge. These stories show what this is like in Utrecht.
Wonderwoods suggests the ultimate healthy urban concept in Utrecht. Positioned in the train station area of the city, this Urban Forest will be the intersection of sustainability, healthy urban development, biodiversity and collaboration.
Residing in a highly urbanized continent, Europe, creates lots of challenges and needs. Among them are the need for greener, healthier, more sustainable and more resilient urban spaces. The city of Utrecht, in one of the multiple attempts and strategies to justify its title as Global Goals city, came up with the idea of building such a multifunctioning facility in the city center. The 'Healthy Urban Quarter' will be a very accurate proof that Utrecht puts health on top of the agenda by bringing together residents, architects, urban planners, scientists as well as people from the Health department when it comes to healthy urban living. For the first time a colleague of the public health department was part of the bidding jury highlighting the importance of health within urban contexts that Utrecht prioritizes. Besides, the combination of these iconic and innovative insights provide all the partners involved with a lot of knowledge about healthy urban development. To spread actual knowledge about health in urban development is a huge gain.
Inside this facility, one will encounter a large variety of plants, vegetal species, numerous new flats combating the strong barrier of housing in Utrecht. Other functions that will turn this building into a greatly green and fitness infrastructure will be the combination of walkability, the healthy food supply in the bars and restaurants on the ground floor as well as the least number of parking spots as possible. What is more, an effective connection between the PlayLab and health can enhance the importance of the healthy vision that this building will provide. Therefore, apart from a green hub, the Vertical Forest that is designed upon circularity, healthy urban living and sustainable interest will be a meeting place for everyone in Utrecht.
The key factors behind this work in progress are the quality over quantity as well as the iconic and ambitious aspects. In other words, the concept is conceived upon notions of durability, architecture, green, health, mobility and parking as equally important strands of sustainability and healthy urban living. Considering the multiple dilemmas when designing this concept makes it even more special. But the weighing of dilemmas on a healthy basis has definitely a huge outcome for Utrecht.
On the whole, the wider Urban Quarter comprises of a low-emission zone in the city, while at the same time it attracts possibilities for redesigning new cyclist and pedestrian lanes and streets. As a result, mobility is another factor that is greatly put emphasis on through this sustainable urban infrastructure and policy. Knowledge exchange and interaction among inhabitants of the new area lead to enhanced awareness, common responsibility and new forms of citizenship that go in line with our modern needs and challenges.
Partnership, social engagement, self-development and special focus on health are the main characteristics behind the “Healthy Urban Quarter”, otherwise referred to as “Wonderwoods”. And as mentioned on the web page of the architect company “Wonderwoods Vertical Forest proposes itself as the new healthy centre of Utrecht.” In saying so, it is essential to point out that this work in progress will have to address modern health challenges and threats such as unhealthy eating, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, air pollution and others to be nominated as the Healthy Quarter in the city.
Therefore, the city of Utrecht is determined to deal effectively with public health, the environment and healthy urban living through this eco-friendly urban approach. The bidding process was promising, however, the local government wants to hold the Wonderwoods consortium committed and faithful to the agreed ideology when it comes to the realization.