Urban areas
Side walk gardens and green walls Foto: Green Walls – Nijmegen Netherlands, Municipality of Nijmegen

Side walk gardens and green walls

The Dutch city of Nijmegen in the Netherlands has made a strong effort to green the city, through a series of measures: Climbing wires for plants, side walk gardens, and vertical green walls. Through this process, the city has effectively addressed the ‘heat island effect’ which results in cities being warmer than their surroundings due to the amount of concrete and asphalt. By adding greenery, the city is kept cooler, which helps to manage heat waves and heat stress, expected to increase due to climate change. As well as improving the city living conditions, the area has been promoted for visitors, and has improved the ecological conditions for animals and plants.

The Adaptation Journey

The positive impact
A series of small-scale projects in the city of Nijmegen have supported adaptation to warmer average and more extreme temperatures, as well as improving local air quality. Despite cities having limited space, Nijmegen has demonstrated that a range of solutions can be implemented to increase resilience to climate change. The first measure is that of climbing wires for plants, allowing even the narrowest of streets to be greened and the houses to be cooled. The local citizens were particularly interested in this solution leading to many residents implementing them on their own buildings. Similar to climbing wires, a more heavy-duty, vertical green wall was placed on a municipal rented building in the centre, which has led to one of the walls being completed covered by plants giving an attractive, green appearance. Side walk gardens were also created and met with enthusiasm - by removing tiles from sidewalk, plants can be grown. Finally, a car park was turned into a little park. Whilst this was less acceptable, including the residents in the process improved the outcome and led to 100% of the car park being turned into the park – this will provide a more pleasant temperature for the area in the summer, keeping it cooler for visitors and inhabitants alike.
How does it work?
Climbing wires for plants, can function on most open wall faces. The project was implemented on 5 streets in the inner city, and requires plants (like ivy) to be fitted against the wires. This is an effective solution for narrow streets as the wires do not take up much horizontal space away from the building. Vertical green walls follow a similar concept however they are often implemented on larger wall faces, and in this case involved a structure with shelves being attached to a wall, in which plant boxes with a vertical grid of roughly 2 m high were situated. Plants are then grown on this, and irrigation can be fitted to keep the plants watered.

Side walk gardens can be implementing by removing part of the side walk and instead planting plants in open soil. Tiles can be used to fence off the garden, and it was found that leaving 1.2 metres of space for pedestrians was important. The gardens were kept open for everyone living in Nijmegen and no permission was needed. Turning the car park into a green park with nature helps to ventilate the city by removing the asphalt features and adding green and blue space, as well as pathways for air flow. This helps to reduce and regulate the inner city temperature.
Supporting factors
The projects were public, supported by the local municipality.
Operation and maintenance
To maintain the wall gardens and side walk garden, irrigation and care is needed, similar to that of a usual garden. When instigating projects that cause changes to the urban landscape (such as that of the car park) it is important to consult the citizens on the design of the new space.

Zieleń miejska Zelená střecha Stínění Biodiverzita Vlny horka a tepelný ostrov 

Nijmegen, Netherlands
Adapted from Circle-2 Project, Climate-ADAPT
Municipality Nijmegen, Veroniek Bezemer

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