Werkspoorkwartier is a commercial/production area near Utrecht. It looks similar to many other such areas across Europe. A rhythm of warehouses where open space is mostly defined by parking and lorry access, and there is a critical shortage of pedestrian and green infrastructure. The lack of a sensible masterplan is often the main issue, especially as these are vibrant spaces where people work or spend time as customers.
Flux designed spaces around an old bridge factory which now hosts businesses, restaurants and event venues. The other part of the project is the Werkspoor path, a 2,5km pedestrian necklace commissioned by the municipality. Both parts can act as benchmarks for improving warehouse areas. The jury appreciated the systemic approach to the redesign, the sense of the visual language effortlessly handling all the challenges, and the translation of the industrial feel of the site into a contemporary work environment. The project, at the same time looks ordinary and excels in detailing, materiality and implementation of green infrastructure.- from the award statements
Werkspoorkwartier is an industrial area in the west side of Utrecht. Despite the transformation into a more mixed-use program, the presence of big warehouses and halls shows its original rough and industrial character. Since 2015, Flux has been active on its own initiative in the Werkspoorkwartier including the transformation of the area around the Werkspoorkathedraal and the Werkspoorfabriek.
The Werkspoorkathedraal used to be the place where trains and bridges were manufactured. Its program has been transformed from a production space, into a social and recreational space, with working spaces, restaurants and an events location. Thanks to this new program the Werkspoorkathedraal is now a vibrant destination within the city of Utrecht.
Flux aims to make the outdoor space attractive, open and inviting for their users. The design contains a carpet of paving, vegetation, trees and objects where different events and activities can take place. The carpet prevents the division of the area into separate parts.
The diagonal orientation of the pavement is inspired by the position of the original train tracks in and around the Werkspoorkathedraal, some of them have been integrated in the new paving, as a memory of the genius loci of the place. All the seating and play elements are made from old wooden rail beams. The selection of concrete slabs, basalt split, scorio stones and the natural planting strengthen the industrial and rough look. The main focus in the plan is the square by the old harbour where sitting stairs towards the water are a gathering place for people.
The transformation of the outdoor space of the Werkspoorkathedraal has led to the design of the Werkspoorpad. Flux intervention contributed in creating a more user-friendly public space, both for cyclists and pedestrians, trying to answer to their needs for a pleasant walkable space, protected from the intense traffic.
In the initial phase, Flux worked together with the owners and workers of the different companies in the area discussing ideas and wishes in multiple workshops. A new walking route of 2,5km through the Werkspoorkwartier was commissioned by the municipality of Utrecht. This route connects main locations such as the train station of Zuilen, the Werkspoorkathedraal, the Werkspoorfabriek and the Hof Van Cartesius.
Werkspoorpad plays an important role in the transformation of the Wekspoorkwartier into a welcoming, accessible and dynamic place. The new street profiles of the roads in the Werkspoorkwartier, reducing the space for cars by narrowing the road and limiting the parking space only on one side, created chances for more green. A small linear park, enlarging the green areas along the walking routes, that widens in correspondence with the harbour of the Werkspoorkathedraal, improved not only the image of the public space but also its green quality. Text and distance indications on the concrete make it a pleasant and interesting route to walk through. Werkspoorpad is only the start of a possible future extension of the path that could connect Cartesiusdriehoek, the Vrijhaven and the Eneco Campus.
Location: Werkspoorkwartier, Tractieweg/Vlampijpstraat, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Design year: 2016-2019
Year Completed: 2021