Bovenbouwwerkplaats: the impressive former workshop building is set to become the hotspot of the new Wisselspoor mixed-use development. With its industrial heritage, the building forms a core part of the redevelopment of the disused NS (Dutch Railways) rail yard in Utrecht. The outer edges of the building are dedicated to small scale creative businesses, hospitality venues, neighbourhood functions and pioneering initiatives. Located beyond the work units at the core of the building is the car park, concealed out of sight. Its textured form protruding above the pitched roofs, the car park appears as a contemporary, abstract volume that complements the industrial character of the workshop.

The scheme resolves different ambitions into one structure, the main aim being to create a lively streetscape. The building provides the necessary car parking for the neighbourhood while concentrating it into one structure, thereby reducing vehicular traffic through the area and avoiding street parking to free up more (green) public space. By clustering diverse functions, the Bovenbouwwerkplaats intuitively becomes a hub that facilitates social interactions. Additionally, the pedestrian and bicycle traffic to and from the workspaces, hospitality venues and car park contribute to the active use of the green space.

A central parking zone becomes an unexpected pragmatic, spatial and social solution.

The car park is a key Cityplot element in that it concentrates all parking for the site into one structure instead of having separate car parks in each building, thus supporting the low traffic ambitions of the project. Cityplot is the planning strategy conceived by Studioninedots, whereby sites are developed in an organic process into lively urban neighbourhoods. Here, the users collectively determine the use of the public space, with the right mix of people, functions and building types. For this reason, the shared space prioritises pedestrians instead of cars, which is why creating a central car park that concentrates and conceals parking becomes an unexpected pragmatic, spatial and social solution.

An elegant mesh curtain.

Our transformation retains and restores the industrial qualities of the old workshop – the structural framework, roofs, facade and detailing. The structure of the new volume is clad with concave, aluminium-coloured expanded metal in varying widths. Resembling a pleated mesh curtain, the facade envelops the structure, changing appearance throughout the day and seasons. By night, the subtly illuminated texture allows the building to glow like a beacon in the neighbourhood.

Internally, the expanded metal facade extends from the top of the car park until the floor of the workshop, forming the back wall of the work spaces. Here, the raw and industrial atmosphere remains. Existing pipework and even the building’s wear and tear are exposed to show the character of the workshop. For the time being, the workspaces are organised as open areas with shared facilities and where the restaurant work/cafe functions as an extension of the individual workspaces.

The five-storey car park accommodates 174 (shared) cars for residents, occupants and visitors in Deelgebied I. To further minimise vehicles and facilitate a calm, park-like setting, people are requested to park their cars at the entrance of the site and walk to their destination. Charging points for electric cars and bicycles are powered by solar panels on the roof.

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