Wonderwoods: now tallest green building of the Netherlands

VolkerWessels project in Utrecht's Beurskwartier nears completion The tallest green building in the Netherlands, Wonderwoods, has reached its highest point. The multifunctional building with 80,000 square meters of living and office space by developer G&S& (part of VolkerWessels) is the headliner of the new center area Beurskwartier in Utrecht. Wonderwoods forms a green oasis in this highly urbanized area and offers a new living environment that will benefit the city for generations to come.

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In the presence of developer G&S&, a.s.r. real estate, the architects and Bouwcombinatie Wonderwoods (consisting of VolkerWessels companies Boele & van Eesteren and Kondor Wessels Amsterdam), Utrecht alderman Eelco Eerenberg gave the go-ahead for the raising of the flags to celebrate the highest point. There was also a light artwork designed as part of Utrecht's I Light U festival with the theme Urban Transformation.

Wonderwoods is the first Utrecht Beurskwartier project nearing completion. It consists of two towers, 104 and 70 meters high, with a hectare of vertical forest and several roof and interior gardens. Wonderwoods is being built on the corner of Jaarbeursboulevard and Croeselaan and was designed by Milan-based architects Stefano Boeri Architetti and Amsterdam-based MVSA Architects.

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Green tower

The collaboration of the two renowned architectural firms is evident in the detailing and warm sustainable materials used in both towers that blend seamlessly. “Our vertical forest in Utrecht is a milestone for all our designs around the world,” said Stefano Boeri. “Wonderwoods is a truly urban building and at the same time a very rich and complex ecosystem.” His Italian firm is responsible for the green, tallest tower. His business partner and architect Francesca Cesa Bianchi adds, “The project makes us extra proud because it shows that integrating trees into a design and building with prefabricated building systems that reduce the ecological footprint are increasingly compatible.”

Boeri is impressed by those prefabricated building components on the cramped construction site in downtown Utrecht. The architect finds it fascinating that the tree and plant containers come to the construction site complete with irrigation system, integrated water storage crates and filled with topsoil from Westo's factory (also a VolkerWessels company). There, they are placed on the cast-through balcony floors with a single crane movement. The method with precast sandwich walls and wide slab floors has been further developed here and contributes to construction speed.

“Wonderwoods is an example project of how to densify cities with a mixed-use building that makes an important contribution to the well-being of visitors, residents, workers and its surroundings,” said Roberto Meyer of MVSA Architects. The Dutch firm is responsible for the design of the 70-meter-high, open tower with lots of glass, allowing the interior and roof gardens to be seen from outside.

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Work together

The Beurskwartier will be a new, car-free center area next to Utrecht Central Station. With this, the Jaarbeurshallen will also become part of the city center. “Actually, Wonderwoods brings together everything that G&S& stands for: Working together to make things better and more beautiful,” says G&S& director Dennis van de Ven, referring to the collaboration with the architects, a.s.r. real estate, the municipality and with the Wonderwoods building consortium. “Years ago, G&S& started this huge adventure together with the municipality of Utrecht. The idea was to build the largest green residential and office project in the Netherlands, and this highest point shows that this has actually been put in place. Taking 80,000 square meters into the air in the city is technically a challenge and so far unprecedented. Wonderwoods is currently the largest utility project in the Netherlands and we are extremely proud of this project.”

Wonderwoods will accommodate 167 owner-occupied apartments, 252 rental apartments (mid-rent and free sector), some 15,000 square meters of office space, commercial facilities and museum Nowhere, Europe's first digital art space with a permanent exhibition by Japan's Teamlab.

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Green is the core value

It will be a green oasis in the newly developed area. The balconies and facades of the buildings are planted with a vertical forest. Inspired by National Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug, the project will bring 75,000 flowers and shrubs, some 30 different animal species and 300 trees to the inner city of Utrecht. The area will be car-free and under Wonderwoods will be an eco- and water buffer system that collects water from the buildings and can discharge 150,000 liters of water in phases when it rains. Royal Ginkel Group is responsible for the realization and long-term maintenance of a total of one hectare of green space at Wonderwoods.

These are all examples of how Wonderwoods connects to the core value of the Utrecht municipality: Healthy Urban Living. Alderman Eelco Eerenberg of Spatial Planning: “Wonderwoods is a new phase in the transformation of the Beurskwartier. This building brings life, quality, allure and effervescence! Residential towers with restaurants, a museum and over 400 rental and owner-occupied homes for different target groups will give Utrechters the chance to live in a green part of the city center. Green in the city contributes to a healthier living environment for current and future generations, and this project reflects that. Wonderwoods fits perfectly with the idea of a healthy city life.”

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About Wonderwoods

Wonderwoods has been named best Mixed-Use project in the Netherlands on behalf of the European Property Awards. The project is being realized by Bouwcombinatie Wonderwoods, consisting of Boele & van Eesteren and Kondor Wessels Amsterdam. The building will be completed in phases starting in the summer of 2024. All apartments in both towers have been sold. A few penthouses are still available. The rental apartments and offices are owned by ASR Dutch Core Residential Fund and ASR Dutch Mobility Office Fund, which will start leasing the apartments from 2024. Tenants for the offices include Spaces and Eurail. For museum Nowhere, work is underway to realize new artworks in Utrecht. The planned completion of the museum is mid-2025.