Urban climate grove

Greening the campus is an important aspect of TU Delft’s goal to operate entirely sustainably by 2030. The university is greening buildings and outdoor spaces and improving the quality of its existing green spaces. One of these spaces is the courtyard at the faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment. It will be redesigned as an urban climate grove in the form of a tree-rich ‘wadi’ (Arabic for riverbed). After its metamorphosis, the courtyard will not only be a a nicer place to stay; it will also provide opportunities for new research. The greening locations on the campus have been specifically chosen because of their function as key ecological linking zones, or as areas where cooling and shade are needed to make the campus more resilient to future challenges.

Scientific research

Thanks to previous research into heat stress on the courtyard, we know exactly where most cooling trees should be positioned. The existing trees from that earlier research will now be planted in the wadis. Extensive research has been carried out for the new urban climate grove, into biodiversity and innovative construction, for example. You can find out more about this in the articleFrom bare brikes to tree-wadi’. However, the research is not done when the construction of the urban climate grove is finished. Led by the Urban Ecology and Urban Forestry research groups, it will be monitored at various levels over the next few years: from the soil to the air and from emissions to biodiversity.


TU Delft is aiming to create an EcoCampus – a place where people can harmoniously coexist with nature. Greater biodiversity ensures a healthy ecosystem and contributes to a climate-adaptive campus. This will limit damage from climate change and take advantage of opportunities due to climate change.

Sustainable design


  • The existing concrete materials, such as tiles and concrete ties, that will no longer be needed will be broken down into different sizes and used as foundations under the path between the wadis. This means the broken tiles, bindings, and paving bricks will be reused.
  • The existing paving bricks will be mostly reused in the paving around the wadis. Those that are not needed will be used at other locations on the campus. Paving bricks are durable: they can last for many decades and have a longer lifespan than concrete paving materials.
  • The existing bike racks will be reused at other locations on the campus wherever additional bike racks are needed or as replacements for broken ones.
  • The existing lamp posts will be reused at another location on the campus.

Use of sustainable materials

  • The footpath between the two wadis will be made of natural stone (sawn granite). This has a long lifespan.
  • The lamp posts will be made of Accoya wood. This wood species comes under durability Class 1 and is the most durable wood in the world. It remains in top condition above ground for 50 years. The wood is guaranteed to be of consistent quality according to established standards.

Furniture and bicycle parking

  • At the centre of the footpath between the wadis will be innovative benches developed by Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment students. The benches feature metal elements that generate energy. This can be used for charging mobile phones, for example.
  • Bicycle racks will be placed around the urban climate grove.


  • The existing paving around the urban climate grove will be resurfaced, sloping towards the wadis to get as much water to the trees as possible.
  • Between the two wadis will be a paved pathway in natural stone with a foundation of various stone fractions underneath, the so-called Stockholm method: this allows the trees to grow healthily under the paving.

Water storage

  • At the corners of the faculty building, the gutter drains will be disconnected from the sewer system and connected to above-ground spouts. A visible gutter will carry the water to the wadis. The outlets of the spouts will be shaped like the flame in the TU Delft logo.


  • The lamp posts will be made of wood. Whenever anyone is present on the courtyard, the lamps will emit white light for greater visibility and safety. At night, the light will dim to an amber colour. Along the paving will be ambient lighting, producing the same effect. The bollards along the path will be strategically placed to illuminate the path with minimal disturbance to the surrounding nature.

Facts and figures

  • 760 m2 urban climate grove
  • 25 trees planted
  • 25 difference species of tree
  • 260 mWater storage capacity
  • 4 spouts
  • The lamp posts will be made of Accoya wood – the most durable species
  • Amber-coloured lighting
  • Reuse of materials for foundation and paving
  • Innovative benches with charging function
  • Different heights in the wadi, so that 25 different species (with different habitat requirements) can live there
  • The trees will be included in the Botanic Garden’s collection
  • Three different groups of vegetation. Each group attracts a variety of birds and insects


  • Design: 2022
  • Construction: Start Q2 (April) – Q3 (July) 2024

More information

For more information about the work, please contact secr-crefm@tudelft.nl.