Revitalising USP Campus: harmonising an urban campus with nature

Utrecht University


The USP campus enjoys a unique setting in the landscape just outside the historical city of Utrecht. It is this setting that imparts a distinctive identity to the campus: large buildings that merge with the abundant green surroundings. Over time, the campus became crowded and faced traffic congestion, leading to the intrusion of infrastructure. This had an adverse effect on both public spaces and the natural landscape.

To revitalise the campus, we addressed several key challenges: to centralise pedestrians within the campus, generate opportunities for social interaction, and reintegrate the experience of the green landscape.

To achieve this, we have implemented a city boulevard with lively ground-level functions, reduced traffic speeds to enhance safety, and allocated more space for interactions, stimulating the exchange of ideas between students, researchers and companies. Furthermore, we have introduced five unique squares – called pockets – within the campus, each catering to different preferences, including sunny areas, shaded spots, large spaces and welcoming corners. This variety of public spaces enhances the overall campus atmosphere and experience.

Once we had defined the desired quality of the public space, we strategically designed the building volumes around it, with a focus on preserving vistas to the natural surroundings. With this approach, we are accommodating the campus’s growth. We have clearly defined the quality of the space between the buildings and are safeguarding the essential green surroundings. The result harmonises the architectural design with the natural environment, creating a balanced and inviting campus atmosphere that preserves its unique character.

Universiteit Utrecht
2020 - 2024
Project size
590.000 m2 (Total area)
Renovation & Transformation, Research & Education, Urban Design
Universiteit Utrecht, Arup, ABT, Deltavormgroep
The campus and the surrounding landscape reinforce each other.
The campus and the surrounding landscape reinforce each other.





Noordwest cluster