The City of Maastricht killed two birds with one stone: it “buried” a motorway tunnel that crossed the whole city and took the opportunity to offer its citizens a fantastic green promenade of 4km long.
This Groene Loper, designed by Edzo Bindels, one of the partners of the West8 agency, is a wide urban boulevard, on which the inhabitants walk, exercise or ride their bikes or scooters. “We basically used the Ramblas model“, comments the Dutch architect and town planner, who worked in a team with Humblé Martens & Willems Architecten.
With around 1,000 new housing units, public facilities, 300,000m2 of commercial real estate and the creation of green and public spaces, this project has generated significant social added value: improvement of liveability, healthy real estate development and intensive use of public space.
Next to covering the tunnel, the area also underwent a large-scale transformation, linking neighbourhoods that had hitherto been isolated. By having “plugged” the motorway, the city allows the inhabitants of a district to benefit from the facilities (mainly schools and shops) of the neighbouring district, which was on the other side of the road axis.
Calculations indicate the project generated between 12 and 220 (according to calculations) million euros in social benefits. But also that the value of houses located within a radius of one kilometre of the green ribbon would in the short term increase by 500 million euros in total.
This project won the European Prize for Sustainable Residential Development as an international example of rehabilitation with a social impact and improving the quality of life of citizens.