WärtZ: Zwolle's Transformative Innovation Haven

WärtZImage Source: MVRDV


WärtZ emerges as a transformative innovation district in Zwolle, driven by a collaboration between MVRDV, Orange Architects, and LOLA Landscape Architects. This ambitious project aims to revitalize Zwolle's railway station area, infusing it with greenery, diverse housing, educational institutions, and communal spaces, fostering a vibrant ecosystem of sustainability and creativity.


In a groundbreaking initiative led by AM, a consortium of architects—MVRDV, Orange Architects, and LOLA Landscape Architects—embarks on transforming Zwolle's former business park adjacent to the train station into an invigorating innovation district, WärtZ. This visionary undertaking, a collaboration between NS and the municipality of Zwolle, will reshape the area into a vibrant community, featuring approximately 850 residences with a substantial percentage dedicated to social housing. Educational facilities, creative workspaces, culinary options, and neighborhood amenities will complement the landscape, forging a new railway park centered around the distinctive Wärtsilä hall.

The proposed overhaul, outlined within the railway zone's development framework, aligns with Zwolle's forward-thinking approach encompassing energy, mobility, circularity, and climate goals. Recognized as one of the seventeen NOVEX zones for extensive housing development by the government, the site envisions a new era of sustainable urban living.

Named 'WärtZ' symbolizing Wild, Art, Raw, Tech, and Zwols, the district encapsulates the essence of innovation while honoring the existing Wärtsilä hall's undulating roof. MVRDV's design reimagines the hall as the focal point, housing innovative startups, educational institutions, and creative enterprises. This space doubles as a versatile venue for events that spill onto the adjoining square. Atop the Wärtsilä hall, a striking wooden residential edifice and a publicly accessible deck promise panoramic views of the hall's undulating roof, the Ijssel floodplains, and Zwolle's city center.

The hallmark of the hall's roof will feature Marte Röling's 'Dikke Vette Gouden Vredesduif,' a sculpture repositioned after years of obscurity. Alongside the hall, MVRDV's three mixed-use buildings dubbed the Werkplaatsen and Orange Architects' Lurelui zone further enrich the central area of WärtZ.

Jacob van Rijs, MVRDV's founding partner, emphasizes the project's sustainable reimagining of existing structures, citing the Wärtsilä hall as a prime example of eco-friendly repurposing and urban densification. Doeschka Bos, AM's development manager, envisions WärtZ as an innovative counterpart to Zwolle's historic core, fostering a dynamic blend of diverse housing, education, and community elements.

WärtZ's landscape design by LOLA Landscape Architects champions 'urban rewilding,' integrating nature into public spaces. Embracing a paradigm shift from predominantly asphalt surfaces to natural environments, the district provides a canvas for creativity and communal living.

The district's infrastructure prioritizes pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport users, aligning with NS and Zwolle Municipality's vision for a sustainable, car-free community. With its multifunctional parking hubs and emphasis on green mobility, WärtZ aims to establish Zwolle's station area as a vibrant, eco-friendly nexus.


WärtZ's ambitious blueprint for an innovation-centric district marks a transformative step toward sustainable urban living, blending modernity with nature and community. This vision for Zwolle represents a harmonious fusion of innovation, culture, and sustainability that promises a vibrant, eco-conscious urban experience for residents and visitors alike.

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