Vondelparc is located on the edge of Utrecht’s inner city. It is a hidden green oasis with 200 homes, two big schools and thoughtfully designed outdoor spaces. Mecanoo’s urban plan takes its cue from the secret historic gardens and informal courtyards typical of Utrecht. Continuing this theme, Mecanoo created a hidden inner world with paths, lanes and gateways.
The existing development on the site provided good starting points for the design. Buildings along the perimeter were restored and a new apartment block joins the sequence of structures. Behind this, various zones contain courtyard houses and dwellings with conservatories and terraces facing green courtyards.
A zone with sculptural apartment buildings merges with the public space. Each townhouse has a private garden and car park. All other parking spaces are grouped in a semi-basement level located in the green courtyards. The timber roofs of the car parks function as private terraces and footpaths, with daylight entering the spaces below through steps and openings in the roof.
Clinkers made of durable materials such as basalt and granite pave the public footpaths that meander through the neighbourhood and widen along school buildings to accommodate the flow of students. To enhance the unique character of the oasis, the new houses and apartments feature striking masonry walls made of irregular, misshapen bricks.