Will Cartesius really become the healthiest neighborhood in Utrecht? I will check who

The new Kartesius city district will soon become the healthiest place in Utrecht, where residents live longer on average and are happier too. At least, this is the ambition of the various organizations that signed on Tuesday a charter with which they want to achieve this. For many, this goal may raise eyebrows, but at the same time there really are differences in health between the population of the Overwecht and the Leidze-Rhine region, for example. This of course depends on many different factors. After a while, it will become clear to what extent the neighborhood plays a role in the health and mental state of residents, because the World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that it will measure the effects.

There is no shortage of great institutions in Cartesius. UMC Utrecht, University of Utrecht, Hogeschool Utrecht, Utrecht Municipality, NS, Ballast Nedam, MRP, Achmea, CBRE and Portaal have signed the covenant of the healthiest neighborhood in Utrecht. . At the same time, Alderman Susan Schilderman and Marga Appelmann, director of housing construction for the Department of the Interior, gave the go-ahead for the construction of the second phase of Cartesius, in which 770 homes will be built. In total, there will be 3,000 homes in the area and The first residents I already got their key. Before the rest of the new homes could be ready, the ground had to first be trampled. After the alderman and the manager pressed the button, the “first” pile fell into the ground. This wasn’t really the first heap, because the DUIC had already received several feedbacks about the constant noise. Locals in this “healthy neighborhood of the future” say they are experiencing a lot of inconvenience right now.

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Lindsey, who lives in a studio apartment in the Solo complex, which was built during Phase One, says she has to “get used to” the work. “But I heard I could live here till I am a hundred, so that seemed like a good reason to come and live here,” the new resident jokes, among others, to representatives of organizations who are given a tour of the area. To become a healthy city district, the neighborhood will soon become Including empty cars Bicycle use is encouraged, for example, by “spacious and comfortable” bike sheds. Lindsey calls it a “privilege” that she doesn’t need a car and that it makes it easier for her to live in this neighborhood. “It means I have to park my buggy in a different neighborhood and my mother-in-law, who is in a wheelchair, can come in less easily.”

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Resident Lindsey informs the attendees that she was supposed to live to be 100 in Kartesius


Of course, more is done in Cartesius than banning cars and promoting the use of bicycles. There is also a lot of interest in green. Each sub-district contains an inner garden which is then connected to Kartesius Garden. Residents here can take a walk or relax on one of the benches. “The indoor garden is a vibrant environment designed in collaboration with Urban Ecologist and Mecanoo Landscape Architecture. Native plants have been carefully selected to provide privacy for residents and relaxation for passers-by. The green facades are jointly owned to ensure everything is properly maintained,” it reads in a press release.

It can also be read that “interventions” will take place in the next five to ten years, after which the health and social well-being of the population will be monitored. These interventions come from scientific theories about healthy and happy living. However, no very concrete examples were mentioned during the tour. So we contacted the director of Ballast Nedam, Onno Dwars. He explains: “Homes will be energy neutral, 20% of facades will be green, 30% of the neighborhood will be green, there will be a low standard for parking and cycling and micro commuting will be encouraged. Measures we are also seeing more and more often in other new areas, but here We’re also going to measure what this does to the population. This is unique. We claim this is going to be a healthy metropolitan area, but we also want to investigate this. Can you really prove that people here are getting happier and healthier? To do that, we first do a basic measurement, And we’re looking at where the population is now in terms of health. And over time we’re going to monitor that. Because the analogy is you know.”

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In addition, there will be collaborations with knowledge institutions such as UMC Utrecht, Hogeschool and Utrecht University. They will come up with interventions that will encourage the population to make healthy choices. Consider, for example, health lessons or prevention information. We want to provide insight into the consequences of those measures.”


Dwars gives as an example that the construction of the sewage system in the Netherlands has also ensured that people live about ten years longer. “So it is not a myth that changes in the living environment can have direct consequences for people’s health. The built environment is the best medicine.” Doars stresses that participation in monitoring is done on a voluntary basis. The World Health Organization is joining the project and will see if the measures are already affecting the mental state and health of the population. This was determined by the World Health Organization during the trade mission of the Economic Council in Utrecht in Copenhagen. Cartesius is included as a project in the “Health in the Wellbeing Economy” program as part of the WHO’s “Healthy Cities”. Onno Dwars of Ballast Nedam hopes to be able to prove that people could live about five years longer if they designed the neighborhood differently. “I think we will look differently at how we design the regions and I hope we can bridge the gap, which can now be quite significant between the different regions, in the future.”

Will Cartesius become the healthiest neighborhood in Utrecht? In any case, ambitions are high and during the tour there was no shortage of superlatives, but whether this is a drawing board wish or will become reality remains to be seen. Monitoring seems like a good idea for that. In any case, there is a housing shortage in Utrecht, so with the arrival of 3,000 homes, many people will be happy again.

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Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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