Project Meerstad Groningen - Render Art

How to increase the power of sustainability projects with renderings help?

Awareness Frame

Our eyes lead us through the domain of pictures. Before our consciousness cares to glance at anything, it has already been filtered and picked by a seemingly fateful whim – be it because of pattern recognition or awareness of context. Our mediated experience travels with barely any friction between reality and fantasy – past, present and future. The anchor will land somewhere near to your heart. Future’s projects are what we portray.

The right choice can seem clear and brilliant at the same time, when as they ultimately do, possibilities and expertise converge. Sustainable architecture is the solution, the hedge for the future in a world of changing climate, where deteriorating infrastructure is being reinvented for the long term, an undertaking itself repeating and carrying forward rich, millennia-spanning knowledge in a wide interdisciplinary context (it’s science! It’s tradition! it’s practice!) . Its depth shouldn’t be mistaken for vagueness. Compressing its gambits into a still picture asks for tact and clarity.

Or, to juxtapose with a caricature, the game rules are changing. A sassy Frankenstein refrigerator that drains energy like a vampire off diet, in the middle of a paranoid wasteland encircled by a tornado of traffic jams just doesn’t do much for halcyon optimism nowadays.

The real estate calculation and demand move into an unmistakable direction – sustainable architecture – that connects and establishes coherent models of future living. Inspiring approaches in development need inspiring pictures just as we need green architecture to sustain into the future.

The Grand Scheme

Perspective comes first. The practicalities ought to be perfected.

In planning everything starts with a masterplan. It is an overarching vision of the whole that sees it’s prerequisites fulfilled without defining them exactly beforehand. The envisioned goal is the first step on the road toward its own realisation. A reference point to which all pieces of the puzzle will be oriented. Similarly, we start from the main perspective.

Aerial perspective gives a complete overview of a project and its surroundings. We live and thrive in communities and cities. Seeing them from above leads to a realisation of their size and intricacies. Our fate is deeply enmeshed with the care and responsibility for our habitat and by extension the wider ecosystem.

In our render of Beurskwartier redevelopment, it is noticeable from afar how green the buildings are intended to be. They are placed between the conference centres of Jaarbeurs and the renovated train station behind which the historical city of Utrecht stretches. Feel free to compare our render with a satellite view on a popular site on the internet. 

Project Beurskwartier
Beurskwartier - New City Center in Utrecht / design idea: Urbanext + Utrecht Municipality / design support & illustration by: Render Art, Malgorzata Widaj,

Utrecht, the fastest growing city of the Netherlands – expected to grow by around 100k inhabitants in the next 20 years, is learning from the past, acting now and placing bets on the future with its Utrecht Spatial Strategy 2040. Expect far fewer cars, plenty of green pockets, more water, as well as better bike & pedestrian connections – a stated goal is a “10 minute city”, where everything of interest should be just that far away, city wide.

In this context Beurskwartier is to become a part of the new city centre. This area, built with sustainable materials and ecological balance in mind – where each building will be designed by a different architecture bureau, will play a key role as a well connected hub of future work and living in the centre of a city that is both socially and ecologically committed and savvy.

These multistory buildings will have shops firmly on the ground, carrying offices above them and yet higher up apartments. Wonderwald, an interesting example consisting of two towers, will sport among other things 10.000 plants and an irrigation system, they call it a vertical forest.

Meet me at the landing strip

Squares are a symbol of city life. A popular place for an appointment – a sure destination in any city. They are lively and see lots of people come and go. You get a feeling of a city from such a place, most probably it will imprint in your memory.

Project Zweden
Project: Sustainability Image of the Future for Sweco / design & illustration by: Render Art, Malgorzata Widaj,

This render, straight form imaginations fancy, illustrates many facets of balanced urban development in one picture. The composition grants the convenience of incorporating particular solutions in a detailed way, while having it all wrapped in a complete dynamic urban scene that emanates warmth.

To name a few notable ideas portrayed:

  1. electric vehicles, with an accent on public transport
  2. efficient bike lanes
  3. permeable pavement & retention function of the plaza in case of excess water
  4. high and low vegetation & green belt
  5. fauna integration (bee hives on the roofs, rabbits on the square, birds)
  6. space for leisure (e.g. place to skate)

Because there is no life without water, you might want to have a look at this SWECO report to get into the flow of things regarding the prospects of living alongside water. So, sustainable architecture values conviviality and is ready to tackle sanitation problems.

What better could we hope for? Let’s save our sewers, avoid heat death and be excellent to each other in beautiful spaces. Our environmental challenges hit harder than a golden toilet.

A place called home

Living in the city or leaving the city?

Suburban sprawl, rolled out and over our landscapes together with motor vehicles and bank credit. Trying to shed pretentious morality like a coat, in need of cleaning and sewing buttons after winter: What did seem like a good fit previously, can suddenly lose its appeal, though we gratefully learn from the past. Architecture is the frame defining how we live and interact with each other. By redefining architecture we redefine our future selves.

Project Meerstad Groningen - Render Art
Project with 1st prize: Meerstad Groningen: 28 dwellings, Netherlands / design: Bemog Projektontwikkeling x LAP Landscape & Urban Design x MIX architectuur B.V. / collaboration: Bureau Meerstad / architectural portraits by: Render Art, Malgorzata Widaj,

The pitch for Meerstad Groningen, starts with atmosphere references and a plan concentrating on the most relevant things. Architectural visualisations are obviously handy from the get go and you can see how important setting the right tone from the beginning is. The allure of the project is akin to a vacation like hideout, serene, with a sense of community and privacy that coexist harmoniously with and within nature. A considerate choice and placement of trees and bushes is readable but also gentle. Moody shadows, realistic light work and conscious colour palette make for a stoic vision. Sparsely used people make this scene lucid and relaxing.

A home is a place of greatest importance. From here we start and here we end our days.

What you see is what you want

Architectural renderings are akin to translation. They help to communicate design ideas, distil complicated plans and visualise meaning into something that is both aesthetically pleasing and instantly intelligible – from there they open space for further elaboration. For a blink of an eye the beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, sensibilities are shared if not mirrored. What is possible? Upholding interest, convincing hearts and minds. Archviz at its heights is an artistic endeavour, where making a name for oneself is in line with making a valuable presentation for the client or community. But in case of sustainable, ecologically balanced architecture, the stakes are higher than chasing trends or perfecting one’s auteur charm. Here visualisations fold into and build onto the ideas and nuances of green architecture, which is rather a force field than a single entity, with focus on cycles, loops and commitment that sustains.

We are in awe of the breadth and quality of designs that we have the honour to work on. Architectural portrayals make these visions sharable, which is pivotal for their success and realisation. 

Authors: Małgorzata Widaj, Marek Maliszewski

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