by Tom Bosschaert

July 11, 2016

Tom Bosschaert

Green Business Club Utrecht Centraal joined Except’s Grid Night Cities go Wild and took urban biodiversity to a professional level, aiming to pollinate the participants with inspiration on how to incorporate nature in urban business operations an Utrecht Central station area.

At the Cities go Wild event we challenged the participants to make Utrecht Central station area more lively and sustainable. The central station area will still be under construction for several years as part of the CU2030 project of the municipality.

Green Business Club member Rabobank contributed tremendously by hosting both the workshops and the evening program at their head office. At the inspiring environment of ‘Rabo Development Square’ Except and Utrecht municipality challenged stakeholders to explore green interventions and solutions for a lively, biodiverse urban area. How would the Jaarbeurs area look like if we were to design from a natural point of view? What if all the roofs, streets and waterways were considered to be biotopes instead of infrastructure? And what are all the benefits of these nature based solutions for human health and happiness, plants, trees and animals, for the real estate values and the social dynamics? Using the online TEEB-Stad model we acquired some impressive insights of these benefits.

The evening started off with a lovely veggie dinner. Meanwhile Chantal Klaver and Hilko Idsinga broke a sweat making a colourful Prezi of the workshop results. Moderator Monica Velasco invited us to share visions and ideas, breaking the ice for Maike van Stiphout’s inspiring vision “Living with Life”. Maike, who is research director at, director at DS landscape architects and Head of Landscape Architecture at Academy of Architecture Amsterdam, showed us the literal bird’s eye view on cities and how we are moving from caring for nature towards living together with nature. She gave many examples of how nature conscious design of buildings and urban areas improves quality of life for all. She also provided six principles for how to do this in design and planning processes. To really take it to the max, you will need a few fools and a healthy bit of endurance.

From inspiration and philosophy, we switched to debate. Three statements, three pitchers: Nik van Nuland, real estate developer at Heijmans, Hans Krüse, urban ecologist at the Municipality of Utrecht, and Matthijs Bourdrez, founder of SolarSedum. The general takeaway from these different perspectives was that incorporating biodiversity is only working and economically feasible when a at the start of a development process multi disciplines team up to define a shared inspirational goal for a more liveable and healthy environment. This is exactly what happened during the afternoon workshops: three occasional and multi-disciplinary teams worked from a shared point of view on three scenarios for the development of Utrecht Centraal West side: a business district, a central park and a hybrid of the two. In only half a day three smashing and inspirational concepts for a thriving new extension of the heart of Utrecht were launched! Have a look at the brainstorm results in this Prezi.

July 11, 2016