The Merwedekanaal has the potential to become Utrecht’s main new artery. The six-kilometre-long canal zone is located between the neighbourhoods of Oog in Al and Westraven. The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Rijkswaterstaat (the state public works agency), and the city of Utrecht have commissioned Posad and the Lint landscape architecture office to investigate the opportunities presented by the canal.
Central location, varied character
The Merwedekanaal is located in the centre of Utrecht and passes through several districts. As a result, the canal zone is highly diverse. For instance, the area around the historic Muntgebouw building has a historic, rather romantic character thanks to its small locks and bridges, while the area around Jaarbeurs comprises part of an innovative new borough.
A canal as connector and catalyst
Posad and Lint see the canal zone as a connector and a catalyst. The area is ideally suited to helping the city of Utrecht achieve its goals around climate change, circularity, healthy urbanisation, mobility, and energy use. The canal cools the air on hot days, offers plenty of potential for water-based recreation, and can be used for water treatment and thermal storage.
The urban island circuit
The two intersections between the Merwedekanaal and the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal create an “urban island” that offers enormous potential. The island’s perimeter is 11 kilometres long. In the canal zone project, Posad and Lint aim to develop the concept of an urban island circuit. We envision the canal banks around the island being turned into a parkland route that would link up with large and small cycling and walking networks. The circuit would provide a place for Utrechters to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise and meet each other.
We aren’t working on the plans for the Merwedekanaal zone alone. We’re involving as many local parties as we can – businesses, associations, current and future residents. Forming coalitions enables us to create the strength and energy we need to improve the city.