Utrecht Community (UCo) is a community with 1800m2 of work, workshop and consultation space in a sustainably renovated train depot. UCo offers space to 150 entrepreneurs with various disciplines. Both separately and together they use their expertise for a more sustainable world. In addition to being a collection of companies and organizations that focus on sustainability, UCo organizes activities inside and outside the building.
The UCo-entrepreneurs work on mutual synergy, and bring this synergy to the neighborhood and external partners at home and abroad. These organizations combine their qualities and knowledge to tackle various issues together from an integrated perspective on sustainability.
External partners can submit an issue to the Utrecht Community on this page.
UCo is located in Utrecht, right in the heart of the Netherlands. The building on the 2e Daalsedijk is a monumental train shed and has been transformed into an inspiring and sustainable work location in collaboration with NS and other partners. The ambition to create an energy-neutral, CO2-neutral, healthy and low-waste work location has now been almost realized.
UCo’s location, the Daalsedijk, is the oldest road between Utrecht and Amsterdam. The road was built in 1200, adjacent to the old course of the Vecht. The building itself is unique due to its original and iconic ‘shed roof’ with a saw-tooth shape. The advantage of such a roof is that it provides uniform daylight throughout the building. Upon visiting the site for the first time, the roof was completely closed. As such, the roof was the first thing that was restored to its original condition during the renovation.
Since 1916, the building has been used as a working place for the construction of railway vehicles and steel constructions. From 1950, there have been guest workers from Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey and Morocco. Until the arrival of the Amsterdamsestraatweg, the Daalsedijk was the most important road to Amsterdam. The district around UCo was created to offer workers housing and these people built a new life together here.
The history of the area shows how crucial connection is, and how connection provides access to the rest of the world. We continue to use this philosophy in the character of UCo. The community provides a connection internally, but also connects to the outside through the projects that we jointly take up. In this way we revitalize the workplace.
Renovation and furnishing
During the renovation and furnishing, we looked at every detail for solutions that are as sustainable, inspiring and as functional as possible. Collaborations have been set up to enable the circular use of materials. Particular attention was paid to giving back to ensure the climate is as healthy as possible, with non-toxic materials, natural light and healthy installations. Many frequently used materials in the interior come from demolished buildings and the bell cabins are made of walls from other office buildings that would otherwise be demolished.
UCo exemplifies that these solutions are affordable and that the possibilities extend beyond expectations. For example: several parties were involved in the development of the acoustic panels. The panels consist of sustainable wood, an interior of recycled cotton and a stretched canvas of organic and fair trade textiles. They have a high damping level and are more durable than what is available as standard.
The energy used for heating the building is generated by means of an air-water heat pump. Underfloor heating in the thick, insulated concrete floor generates high comfort due to its accumulating capacity. The ventilation air is pumped circularly by means of a heat recovery system. In the summer, the incoming air is cooled a few degrees by means of adiabatic cooling. This technique is unique for office buildings like this and gives a pleasant indoor working environment during the summer months. The building are continuously striving to improve their sustainability and are working hard to ensure that UCol becomes self-sufficient in the near future. We are currently focusing our efforts on lighting with PV cells and LED lighting playing a part.
UCo is full of innovations and solutions developed with a wide range of enthusiastic partners and within the community itself. UCo wants to raise the bar for sustainable renovation whilst including modern aesthetics, as well as act as an inspiration for others considering to venture down the same path.
UCo was one of the ten finalists of the Healthy Urban Office Challenge in 2017. The Healthy Urban Office Challenge is an initiative of the Municipality of Utrecht, the municipality of Amersfoort, the province of Utrecht, the Economic Board Utrecht and the De Nieuwe Draai Foundation.
In 2018, UCo was nominated for the Sustainability Award for the restoration project with the best sustainability measures in the province of Utrecht.
UCo is an initiative of Except Integrated Sustainability, conceived and initiated by Tom Bosschaert (Except) and established by Tom Bosschaert (Except), Michiel van der Vight (DeWarmteTransitieMakers) and Mirjam Schmull (TRANSFORMEER.com). The ideas from which UCo originated is that a varied community of sustainability professionals is essential for a sustainable Netherlands.
Michiel van der Vight (DWTM) was responsible for the business case and was committed to financing the initiative. Mirjam Schmull was the project leader of the transformation process and the realization of the community. Merel Stolker (TRANSFORMEER.com) was responsible for the completion of the hull and the interior, from concept up to, and including, realization. Together they translated the vision into a clear and usable image quality plan, which still serves as a framework and a useful assessment framework for decisions. Integral sustainability is the basis, but the distinctive character can be found in co-creation processes with local entrepreneurs.
The UCo board is currently:
- Frank Van Berkum (president) of Frank van Berkum Consultancy & Initiatives
- Vincent Smeele (Treasurer) of InEnergie
- Jeroen van der Vlist (Secretary) of Except Integrated Sustainability
- Boudewijn Goudswaard of The Missing Link
- Rachel Heijne of VVM netwerk van milieuprofessionals
- Albert van der Hem of BLIX Consultancy b.v.