Berlin Square becomes ‘the beating cultural heart of the Leidsche Rijn with rural charm’

Utrecht is building a new cultural heart with national attraction. In the coming years, Berlin Plads will be transformed from a cultural square with temporary pavilions into a cultural heart with permanent buildings for culture and entrepreneurs. Utrecht municipality, city lab RAUM, development partner DePlaatsmaker, creative incubator Kanaal30 and Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU) have signed a collaboration agreement on this today. Together, they must provide a permanent interpretation of Berlin Square. The Pleinmakers consortium has been tasked with designing, building and managing this unique place.

“A cultural heart with a rural attraction is created on Berlin Square, which we do not know anywhere in the Netherlands. With exciting culture and new art forms thanks to co-creation with local residents and creators from different disciplines such as dance, music, theater and visual arts, ”says councilor Anke Klein (Culture).
Since 2016, a varied program can be seen and experienced from the temporary pavilions on the site. This will be much more extensive after the opening of the new building. “The public program on Berlinplein is becoming like a festival that is constantly going on,” Klein says. “You experience dance and theater, stroll through an exhibition, take part in a city debate, attend a presentation or sit on a bench to enjoy all the impressions.”
The consortium has made a first sketch of what the permanent buildings and the public space on Berlin Square, the place where all this is to take place, could look like. In the coming period, this will be further developed in co-creation with all parties and local residents. “Something special is created when you give the residents the opportunity to talk to artists, poets with architects and politicians with theater makers. It actually results in something new, “says Donica Buisman from RAUM.
A final design is expected in 2023. At the end of 2025, the new building with, among other things, exhibition and presentation rooms, studios, workshops, catering and workshops will be ready.
Berlin Square will soon provide space for 50 large and small organizations active in the fields of art, culture, education, technology and welfare.
“We are building a completely new city center in Leidsche Rijn. With Berlin Square, this center gets a pulsating and beating heart. Creativity and entrepreneurship are combined here with culture and circularity. Something that many residents enjoy and need. And something we can be proud of, “said Councilor Klaas Verschuure (Spatial Development, Economic Affairs and Leidsche Rijn).
“The buildings on Berlin Square will be as circular as possible,” said Councilor Eelco Eerenberg (Real Estate Agent). The necessary experience has already been gained in the temporary buildings now located on Berlin Square. “For example, the newly rebuilt temporary pavilion consists of 95 percent recyclable materials, a big step forward compared to the pavilion that stood there before,” says Arna Notten from DePlaatsmaker.
“The buildings on Berlinplein will soon be able to be adapted and reused. In this way, Berlin Square moves with the city and the wishes of new users,” says Eerenberg. “We take on a pioneering role and show that circular construction offers unique opportunities.”
Last year, the city council decided to invest 45.2 million euros in Berlin Square as a new cultural heart, part of the Cultuuras in the Leidsche Rijn Centrum. Until the new building is ready, Theatergroep Het NUT (Nieuw Utrechts Toneel), the consulting company Young Dogs, Stadslab RAUM, the creators of Good Friday, the welfare organization Buurtwerkkamer, the dance companies IRC, 155 and SHIFFT, the artist initiative OP & and festival organizer Grasnapolsky will continue from the temporary brewery cellars.
The De Pleinmakers consortium, which has been commissioned to design, build and administer Berlinplein, consists of Vink Bouw, Studio R, INBO, Bureau SLA, Offtreders W, Woonpioniers, BOOM Landscape, SPIE, DWA, New Horizon, Pieters Bouwtechniek, Koen Koch Podium advice, DVDL and BLOC.

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