A Social Space On Top Of A Highway

Pop-Up City has been asked to be a jury member of an in-residence program for Utrecht’s Berlijnplein, calling for international artists to temporarily settle on the roof of one of the Netherlands’ most prominent highways.

Utrecht, the fourth city in the Netherlands, is growing at a very fast pace. Leidsche Rijn is a new part of town currently in development, that will eventually house 100,000 people, making it the largest urban project in the country. A creative strategy is now being put in place to create a hotspot at the location where the old city will meet this enormous new part of town.

A 10 lane-wide busy highway forms a barrier between Leidsche Rijn and the rest of the city. For this reason, parts of the highway have been put underground, to ease connections between the old and the new. A large open square has been created on the roof of this tunnel, Berlijnplein (Berlin Square), which should eventually function as the heart and center of Leidsche Rijn. In the coming years, a lively urban space should start to appear including shops, café’s and restaurants. Also, 3,000 residential units, a congress center, health care facilities, schools and culture are part of the plan. A large cinema has already been opened, and a food-market is planned. The first shops will open in 2018.

Until then, the space is empty. For that reason, and to start giving identity to this new part of the city, Utrecht is using a creative temporary strategy for the square. In two open calls, they are reaching out to local, national and international makers to help discover what Berlijnplein could be. Under the name RAUM, a pop-up physical place is created where new and creative ‘stories’ are made through art, design and technology. As a maker, this is your opportunity to give meaning to Utrecht’s new urban center. There’s lots of space and endless potential — they are looking for true pioneers. The first open call is looking for makers-in-residence, who will actually live and work on the Berlijnplein, inside the RAUM space. The second open call is focusing on creative projects that could take place on the square, making use of the 40,000 m2.

Parts of the old roof of Utrecht’s Central Station are re-used to create a new social space

So, anyone who will visit the square this summer will meet artists, see large installations and find events. Or create something themselves. Starting in May, a ‘creators collective’ of Dutch and international creatives will give shape to the creative programming of the area. The theme is ‘IN MOTION’, referring to the quickly changing urban environment of which the square is part of.