AIR Leidsche Rijn

AIR Leidsche Rijn

Utrecht, Netherlands

Status: Design
Project Design: 2018
Client: BPD, De Nijs.

Design Team: Mecanoo, MVSA Architects, Space & Matter, OKRA landscape architects.

Programme: 93,539 m2 urban development including 73,922 m2 residential (815 dwellings, composed of 21% social housing, 21% mid-range rental units, 10% investor rental units, 31% mid-range owner-occupied units and 17% upper-range owner-occupied units), collective spaces (283 m2), leisure facilities (1,408 m2, restaurants (498 m2), commercial facilities (291 m2), retail (300 m2), underground parking (16,837 m2).

Utrecht is one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the Netherlands. To sustainably manage this densification, the municipality has set high standards for Healthy Urban Living and has designated two density and height “peaks” within the city. One of these peaks is the Leidsche Rijn station area, for which the AIR Utrecht residential development is the iconic final element. This new urban quarter offers a rich urban living experience by being simultaneously dense, permeable and socially engaging. 

AIR offers a unique combination of urban living in a green healthy environment by offering a mix of living and working for a wide variety of target groups. Despite the high density, the new city district is small-scale and well-connected to its surroundings. At the centre of the development is Stockholmplein, the main public square. From there, various sized alleys lead to a network of semi-public green courtyards including a contemplation garden, herb garden, and reading garden.

These are inspired by the courtyards and monastery gardens found within the historic city center of Utrecht. The green courtyards and facades, the roof gardens and terraces collectively make AIR an oasis in the middle of the city.

The three towers form a harmonious ensemble with a focus on the human scale achieved through different heights, a fine urban grain, detailing and a range of green public spaces. The towers are designed to allow for plentiful daylight while preventing undesirable strong wind currents in the public spaces. The plinth is divided into smaller buildings fitting in with the existing surroundings.

The architecture with balconies, recessed window frames, patios, setbacks, loggias, and roof terraces is airy and expressive. Just as with the courtyards, each building has its own identity. Tower 1, clad in traditional masonry, progressively steps back as it rises in height. Tower 3, has a more classical plinth-body-crown articulation with an open and green facade, composed of all-sided stacked green terraces giving the building the atmosphere of a green oasis.

Together the collective functions have been devised to bring added value to the neighbourhood. The restaurant of Tower 3 utilizes fruit and vegetables produced from the surrounding roof gardens. The plinth features a multifunctional space that can open towards the central square and provide an outdoor theatre and music performance space. 

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