Municipality of Utrecht

Berlijnplein Circular Strategy

The background

The sustainability ambitions have a prominent role in the development of Utrecht’s Berlijnplein culture cluster (approx. 10,000 m²). In the initiation phase of the project, we set up the circular development strategy, in which the circular principles for the entire development are elaborated and made concrete in focus areas specifically for each building layer. The concepts in the strategy have been translated into a circular business case. The circular strategy is also an integral part of the tender documents. During our involvement in this project, we transferred our knowledge and experience to the members of the project team.


The municipality of Utrecht wants to make Leidsche Rijn ‘Utrecht’s second city center’. An important part of this is the Berlijnplein culture cluster, which the municipality intends to realize in a development process based on the principle ‘form follows ambition’. Concretely, this means culture can already be experienced through temporary buildings. The municipality will commission these to be replaced with permanent buildings by a partnership of different parties in close collaboration with the parties that will be established at the culture cluster.

The question

Support the municipality of Utrecht in drawing up a circular strategy for the development of the culture cluster, based on the municipality’s sustainability ambitions, and guarantee that the project team gains knowledge and experience on this specific theme.

Current situation and future

The circular strategy must offer concrete guidelines and really challenge the market to be innovative and realize the strategy in co-creation with the client and users. By building support internally and externally, the municipality of Utrecht’s high ambitions will be enabled, and developers will respond to the freedoms offered.

The process

We started by collecting the municipality’s ambitions and definitions in the field of sustainability. We translated these into various circular principles (circular materials and circular design) and corresponding ambition in the field of energy. In addition, we provided insight into the environmental impact of a ‘traditional’ building and compared this with that of a ‘circular’ building. The circular building in this scenario consists of recycled products and biobased materials, and it has a detachable design that provides high potential for the reuse of products. Finally, we processed the circular principles into a circular strategy and plotted them on the different shearing layers (S-layers) developed by Stewart Brand, based on the various functional lifetimes.

The results

The most important result is a circular strategy that is supported internally and externally and widely shared within the municipality. The strategy is included in tender documents, which are then translated into various selection and award criteria. This strategy provided input for the circular business case, which was created together with IGG Construction Economy for the whole development of Berlijnplein. In the business case, various circular variants are calculated based on the circular strategy.

“Challenging each other to create more value produces a lot of energy” Trudie Timmerman Projectmanager

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