The Willem Alexander Park, located at the foot of the Leidsche Rijn Centre in Utrecht is situated on top of the roof of the A2 tunnel. The park is part of the desired landscape corridor through Utrecht, formed by the Amsterdam Rhine Canal. The park is situated in between two anchors, the bridges crossing the canal. The neighbouring construction projects have been delayed. With the realisation of the ecological corridor in the North-South direction, the park adopts the existing A2 highway design theme: A2- migratory birds route.
Due to the crisis the development of the adjacent residential areas have been fragmented or delayed. Because the urban development is unpredictable, the interim situation has the quality and design of a final situation. On the West side of the park a part of the Hoge Weide area is being build. A primary school has recently been realised. The rest will follow step by step. the realisation of the Leidsche Rijn Centre on the North side is divided into phases. The construction of Leeuwenstein Noord, the area in between the park and the Amsterdam Rhine Canal has been canceled for the time being.The phased realisation of the park is linked with the surrounding developments. Building the first phase has been rushed because the basis of the park operates as a lightning conductor for the A2-tunnel.
The park is part of the Amsterdam Rhine Canal landscape, situated on top of the A2-tunnel. The tunnel roof is considered as the ridge of the valley. The main path through the park gives the visitors a beautiful view on the surroundings. This so called ‘ridge path’ stretches between the two canal bridges. Even after realisation of the residential Leeuwenstein Noord the park will have the canal in its scenery. The curved path makes a walk interesting, offering various and changing views. The unobstructed view between the centre and the belvedere at the South, makes the impressive depth of the park visible. The group of trees in the North and the South strengthen the view. The park consists of two main zones. The East zone is a composition of fields to be used intensively by people of all ages. The West zone is a purple flowering prairie for nature purposes. In East-West direction five themes can be distinguished. Each field has its own (minimal) design. All the elements are attached to the ridge path
The purple coloured part on the West side is rich with fruits and seeds (food for A2 migratory birds). The composition of fields on the East side will be maintained in different ways. The connection with the green areas in the rest of Leidsche Rijn is considered as very important, making the link to the landscape. In the adjacent road fauna tunnels are proposed. In the park special designed nesting facilities for birds, insects and small mamals will be provided. During the interim situation the sandy facade over the full length of the park will be prepared for the Sand Martin, thus forming the longest nestling wall known. Because of its isolated position during this period, small mammals, birds and insects will be the main users of the park.
Through a participation process residents of the Leidsche Rijn and the neighbouring school got involved. The sport fields are made according the whishes of the adjacent primary school. They will also be taking care of the educative nesting facilities which they design themselves together with a product designer. A local beekeeper, pleased with the richness of fruits and flowers, will place his beehives in the park. The ridge path, interpreted as a blackboard, will be painted by two local artists. With their drawings they refer to the invisible highway underneath.
Willem Alexander Park
Location | 3541 SC Utrecht – Leidsche Rijn \ The Netherlands
Client | City of Utrecht
Design | Dr. M.C. Van Stiphout (Maike) – landscape architect
Project manager | Chris Verstappen
Team DS | Fred Booy, Annemieke van Tricht, Chris Verstappen
Construction company | Agterberg (chief contracter: Mr. van Wijk)
Credits all images and text | Team DS