A team comprising Witteveen+Bos, OKRA Landscape Architects and ZJA have won the tender for the integral design of the Jaarbeursplein with underground parking. As a result, the Jaarbeursplein, in Utrecht, will undergo a major transformation in the years ahead. With more relief and off-set, an object centrally positioned in the square and active programming, the new square is aimed at a better connection with the character of the inner city. Construction is expected to start in 2014.

With the construction of a new bicycle storage under Stationsplein West and a new bus square under the public transport terminal, the area of the Jaarbeursplein is freed up for a new program, which consists of "transfer, accommodation and events". The aim is to create a comfortable, lively and socially safe square.

To accommodate a generally significant flow of travelers, smart organization and clarity are important principles in the design. Also "logical connections" need to be created between the square, the underground parking garage and the public transport terminal. In addition, the square provides a new urban fabric which, in a natural way, is to offer space to pedestrians, cyclists, and (supply) traffic destined for surrounding properties. In that, good use will be made of the current qualities of the area.

Driving force
The seventy four acre Jaarbeursplein will be planned in such a way that it can respond to future changes and will act as a driving force for future real estate developments in the Jaarbeurs District.

Characteristic to this square is that not so much the horizontal surfaces, but rather the vertical walls contribute to the quality of the area. This contribution will be enhanced by light projections on these walls, together with a dynamic skirt surrounding the square. Thanks also to event-programming, the square has a true potential to become the Times Square of Utrecht.

In addition, an object, further to be elaborated on, will be created to act as an eye-catching focal point and a divider of the central area. Steps along the square will provide the square area with clear zoning between pedestrians and cyclists, busy and tranquil, stone and green, transfer and accommodation.

As with the existing projects in the station area, the construction of both the car park and the square will be projected as an event. In that way, the nuisance of the construction can be alleviated by making the work visible and transforming the negative image of a building site in to something positive by means of art projects, playful actions or events.