What do you do with 3,600 square meters and 2,500 euros? Beton-T is looking for experimental plans

All Utrecht residents are invited to come and think about the interpretation of the experimental town square Beton-T. The site on Koningin Wilhelminalaan covers an area of ​​3,600 square meters, a huge concrete slab where all ideas are welcome. Every month a new ‘City Curator’ gets the opportunity to implement his idea. A new city curator will be chosen every month until July 2023. You can submit an idea every month before the first day of the month.

An ‘experimental town square’. These words alone are enough to give you a vivid idea of ​​this new location on Koningin Wilhelminalaan in Utrecht. A frayed edge of the city, a haven where Utrecht residents are in charge. Beton-T must become a place ‘where culture, movement, education, greenery, relaxation and wonder can live side by side’.

The city of Utrecht has grown at an unusually high rate in recent years. New residential towers, cycle paths, office buildings, food gardens, bus stops, supermarkets and catering businesses are carefully marveled at in the available space. Very impressive, that’s for sure. But it’s also a bit oppressive. Beton-T therefore makes the experimental town square available to all Utrecht residents. “In a city that has longed for space for experimentation and culture for years, we have carte blanche here until 2025 to let loose.” The condition is therefore that you come up with a good idea. It can be anything.

frayed edge

Beton-T is a temporary project of the creative breeding ground Vechtclub, explains Anne Gelderland. “We are working hard here on the construction of the Merwedekanaalzone, but here too the outskirts of the city can really exist. The building that once stood here has been demolished. We will be allowed to use this space in the run-up to the new district. We approach everything very experimentally. We are experimenting with how this area will be populated; it could be a cultural or creative event, but you could just as easily do something with sports or education. As experienced experts, we are happy to share our knowledge and help to think along, e.g. by giving tips on interior design and layout of the site. If, for example, you want to use the site to shoot a film, it might also be an idea to hold the premiere at this location.”

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gates open

“On the other hand, it’s also really an experiment for us, it’s quite exciting. When there is no event, the page is open as usual. What you notice now is that the people who discover this place no longer come from an underground culture. Apparently they need space and so they come here. The property is also theirs. But what is also exciting now is the question of how we keep the site representative for everyone. You want to say to people who come to spray graffiti: it is allowed here and better not there. We are looking for connection and meeting here, so if you have an idea: try it here. We are going to experience it.”

Accessible

The ‘Concrete-T hands out’ campaign started last month and will continue until July 2023. During this period, each month an idea will be chosen for the interpretation of the square. The participants do not need to be seasoned festival organizers for this, on the contrary. “The idea is to keep it accessible, so come up with a good plan.” You can make it as small or as big as you want, from a concert series to public gym classes, a zoo or maybe an underwater movie screening: you can think of it as crazy.

“We are looking for trial plans that also provide space for connection with other Utrecht residents,” says Anne about the campaign. “Then we will look at what we feel the most about – we like to discuss the submitted ideas and maybe we can link other parties to it.”

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Starting budget

The square is equipped with basic facilities such as a stage and sound system, two bars and toilets, a film projector and skate facilities. As mentioned, Beton-T also helps to create and execute the plans. The municipal board receives an initial budget for this. It concerns an amount of 2,500 euros, which must ensure that the plans are actually realized.

Anne: “We have applied for a number of grants for this project, and we share the money. We want to give the participants the opportunity to actually do what they have come up with.” In addition to a plot of land and pocket money, the City Curators also receive guidance in organizing and implementing the plan. “Every month we choose someone and invite them to interviews. It can be quite a brainstorming session, because we want to give the plan even more body by adding something to it. But it may not be necessary, and we just have to look at how to execute the plan.’

Walk shops

The first city curators are already known: Cynthia Boom and Kevin Kars from the Utrecht design studio Kars + Boom. They will start in November with a series of ‘walkshops’ with residents from the neighbourhood, and based on these conversations they will build a play installation for adults on the concrete slab. “This immediately appealed to us”, notes Anne. “There are already many great achievements, but they are one-off events. At Beton-T you can also do long-term projects, build things. In addition, this was a perfect meeting with our questions. You can involve the neighborhood and see what the needs are and turning it into art: a play installation for adults that encourages meetings. Cynthia and Kevin are also working with a newly graduated architecture student.” Kars + Boom are currently working on walkshops in the district.The installation will come to Beton-T next spring.


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