Climate-Responsive Maarschalkerweerd | category A conceptual projects
Urbanization leads to more built-up surface at the expense of the cities’ green surface and surrounding rural land. This has a negative effect on the urban climate and the inhabitants’ thermal comfort. Especially when we look at climate change projections, these negative effects will likely only increase in the future and affect the resilience of urban areas. Therefore, I wonder how existing urban climate knowledge and the clever use of vegetation and greenery, can positively influence the design of resilient and climate-responsive new expansions of the city?
‘Climate-Responsive Maarschalkerweerd’ is the design based research part of my Msc Thesis ‘Climate-responsive urban edges’. In this thesis, existing urban climate knowledge is used as the starting point for the resilient design of locations in which the city can expand to deal with predicted urban growth. The newly developed analysis and method defines 8 climate-responsive expansion locations for the fastest growing city in the Netherlands, the city of Utrecht. One of these locations is Maarschalkerweerd.
Maarschalkerweerd is located at the east periphery of the city and has a rich variety of green areas. This variety is the result of the presence of several historic estates and the remains of the New Dutch Waterline (a former military line of fortifications and inundation fields). This richness has many opportunities for the urban climate and inhabitants’ thermal comfort, but causes many conflicts as well when changing this rural landscape into an urban area. Therefore, the challenge in the design is twofold. On the one hand, existing vegetation and green opportunities have to be saved, strengthened and improved to safeguard a pleasant urban climate and the new inhabitants’ thermal comfort. On the other hand, the transformation of the landscape has to adapt to the urban structure of the city and the underlying rural landscape.
A profound analysis based on the exiting urban climate knowledge determines the most suitable areas in Maarschalkerweerd that can be built climate-responsively in the future. These areas are used to create new neighbourhoods with careful consideration in the design for the future inhabitants’ thermal comfort. Thermal comfort is influenced by greenery, wind, water and urban geometry and greenery proves to be the main influencing aspect. Vegetation provides shade, steers or blocks wind, and cools the air temperature by evaporation of water. Therefore, in the master plan and detailed designs greenery is saved, strengthened and made accessible for the residents of the city.
A no longer operational railroad between the city centre and Maarschalkerweerd is redesigned as a slow traffic network (biking and walking)to connect the new expansion with the city centre, but also to connect the city with the valuable green areas in Maarschalkerweerd. Trees in this line shaped park provide shade for its users and they break a channeling effect of the wind.
Road to science
Redesign of this traffic network supports thermal breeze; a cool airflow between cooler and warmer areas. Cool air streams from adjacent grass fields, over a road and a new tramline, into the warmer housing district. To support the cool airstream, the edge of the housing district is opened, the tramline is designed with a grass surface and an extra row of trees is planted. The trees give shade to the asphalt that consequently will heat up less rapidly.
Landscape park NHW
This landscape park functions as a wind corridor where from cool wind can enter the warm city. A landscape park is designed to avoid potential future building developments that block this crucial corridor. With the rich variety of trees and vegetation, this park can act as an escape from the hot city during warm periods. In addition, the accessibility and connections with the surroundings are improved as well.