Houten is a municipality in the Netherlands, in the province of Utrecht. The expected population in 2015 will be 50,000 (already reached in 2007). The municipality consists of the following towns:
- Houten (pop. 38,062)
- 't Goy (pop. 606 in 2002)
- Schalkwijk (pop. 1,946)
- Tull en 't Waal (pop. 665)
The main town in the municipality is Houten
, a commuter town about 9 km southeast of Utrecht
. In 2007, the town had 45,610 inhabitants. The built-up area was 5.08 km² in area, and contained 11,486 residences. The slightly larger statistical district of Houten had a population of about 39,100 in 2004.
History of Houten
Remains of a Roman villa have been found in the old centre of Houten, made visible in a street pattern. There used to be a Roman villa on that spot. This building was discovered in the fifties. In the Dark Ages Houten took shape as a rural centre. The area of the municipality of Houten was divided in the so-called 'gerechten' (districts). The names of these districts are still in use: Schonauwen, Wulven, Waijen, Heemstede.
A lot of elements in present-day Houten are reminders of its history. Prominent in the old centre 'Het Oude Dorp' are the Roman Catholic Church (1884) and the Protestant Church (1563). The first accounts of this church date from the ninth century, the oldest parts of the church are probably from the eleventh century. Another prominent building is the restaurant/cafe 'De Engel', already mentioned in the 16th century as a tavern.
Former access roads to the old centre are still recognisable by their names, such as the 'Odijkseweg' and 'Loerikseweg'. Houten had many orchards, but few have survived.
Modern Houten, after WWII
The expanding city 1966-1993
Modern Houten started to take shape in the last decades of the 20th century (1966-1993). It was designated a 'Groeikern' - a centre of growth - to meet the needs of the growing city of Utrecht. In 1979 the construction of 10,000 dwellings started and the population grew from 4,000 to more than 30,000 in the nineties.
Second designation as a centre of urban growth 1995-2007
Until 2008, some 7,000 new houses are being built in Houten-Zuid, following the same urban design principles as the existing Houten-Noord, but with some differences. The body of water to the east is large in comparison with water bodies in the old parts of Houten. The pentagonal green zone in Houten-Zuid embracing the centre is different from the greenzone in Houten-Noord, which runs through the whole city in a linear structure, with parks at either end. Another difference is that in some places cars share the road with bicycle paths.
Houten is well connected to other cities, especially by train. Twice or four times an hour trains leave for Utrecht and 's Hertogenbosch/Tiel. The railway will be doubled, from two tracks to four. In the mean time a local train runs between Houten and Houten-Castellum station in Houten-Zuid.
Busses travel to regional destinations.
Houten is well adapted to the high number of cyclists. A large network of bike paths make it convenient to cycle to various destinations and within the town the bike is the most popular mean of transportation.
It is relatively easy to get on the highway, although more convenient from north-western parts of the city than from the south-east.
Urban planning and architecture
Sustainable urban design
Houten is internationally known for its urban design. Because of the city structure, people are stimulated to travel by bike and train.
Distinctive qualities of Houten include the accessibility of the railway station, green and water zones throughout the whole city, numerous soccer and basketball fields, high standard of accommodation for different groups and the child-friendly bicycle paths. It is one of the safest cities in the Netherlands. Cyclists and cars are able to avoid each other: an extensive network of bicycle tracks connects the different districts of the town, while cars have to go to the city ring road before they can go to another part of the city.
Remarkable buildings in Houten
- Aluminiumcentre (Micha de Haas)
- Pyramid-shaped apartment complex (Gebroeders Das)
- Total petrol station (Samyn and Partners)
- Fire department (Samyn and Partners)
Famous people from Houten