Life Cool Square

Damsterplein: Life Cool Square

Did you miss the knowledge session about innovative techniques to reduce heat stress and capture and infiltrate water in an urban environment? No worries. You can click here to watch the recording.

The risk of flooding and heat stress is increasing in urban areas all over the world, including Groningen. Spatial measures are needed to make the city cooler and to limit flooding. But how do you do that in a city where public space is already limited? And where other developments, such as urban densification and mobility, also appeal on this limited space at the same time?

This is a difficult task. Difficult, but not impossible! For Damsterplein we created the LIFE COOL SQUARE project. This project looks at solutions and ideas to transform the stony public space into a green and liveable environment. With trees, benches and fun elements for young and old. The impression above shows what Damsterplein could look like in the future.


The city of Groningen will receive € 1 million from the European Commission for a greening plan for Damsterplein. An application for this was submitted to the European LIFE Fund in 2020. With the LIFE program the European Commission wants to stimulate projects that fit within the European policy of nature, climate and the environment. The application for the Damsterplein has now been definitively approved. This is good news for the city as it means that the plan can be worked out. When the work is finished, Damsterplein will be the ‘coolest’ square in Groningen.


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Knowledge sessions

The city of Groningen is not the only city in search for solutions to make the city cooler and to limit flooding. That is why it is important to share knowledge with each other. LIFE COOL SQUARE will therefor organize three knowledge sessions on various themes related to climate adaptation.

The first knowledge session took place on January 25, 2022. The session focused on innovative techniques to reduce heat stress and capture and infiltrate water in an urban environment. With a high turnout, interesting speakers and inspiring examples, the knowledge session was a great success.

Did you miss the knowledge session? No worries. You can click here to watch the recording. You can also see the individual presentations through the links below:

Summary of the plan

The plan for Damsterplein consists of the following components:

The plan for Damsterplein consists of the following components:


  • Part of the pavement will be replaced by green islands with plants and trees that can withstand both dry and humid periods. The different planting ensures more biodiversity. In addition, the trees provide shade on hot days.
  • Part of the paving will be replaced by light-reflecting paving, which means that the square does not heat up as quickly in summer.
  • Places will be created to filter and drain rainwater. There will also be a water storage facility to store water. In dry times, the water from the water storage can be used, for example, to water the plants and trees.
  • The options for adapting the road structure around the square are still being looked into, so that fewer cars drive past the square. The road itself is also being adapted to climate change. In this way we want to ensure lower noise emissions and lower emissions of nox and particulate matter in the future.
  • The square will be designed as a pleasant place to stay with benches next to and under the trees. In the design, the accessibility of the square is carefully considered. We think it is important that it becomes a square for everyone.
  • We are working together with residents, entrepreneurs and educational institutions on a green and pleasant square.

Ultimately, Damsterplein will become (literally and figuratively) the coolest square in the city.

Click here to watch a large version of the infographic.

What are the goals for Damsterplein?

To become a ‘sponge city’

In a ‘sponge city’ you use natural solutions, such as holding water in the soil and storing it for dry times. We want to place green islands on the deck of the underground parking garage, with plants and trees that are both resistant to drought and moisture. We also want to use ‘bioswales’. These are channels where rainwater can flow and where it is filtered by plants. And we want to create a water storage facility to reuse water. With these measures we hope to prevent flooding and extreme droughts in the future.

Combating heat islands

We want to reduce the effects of urban heat islands and with that the negative effects on the health of local residents and entrepreneurs. Heat lingers longer in the city and as a result of which it is even warmer than the area around the city. We want to reduce the heat islands, among other things, by placing shady plants and trees on the roof of the underground parking garage. We also want to use a pavement that reflect light.

Increasing awareness, engagement and motivation among residents and politics

We want to increase awareness, involvement and motivation to contribute to solutions for dealing with the effects of climate change through shared ownership between the municipalities, residents and entrepreneurs. We do this by actively involving them in the development of the plans. In addition, we offer residents options to create facade gardens and we are looking at collaboration opportunities with the residents’ association for the construction and maintenance of the green islands on the square.

To collect knowledge

We are setting up a monitoring system with Hanze University Groningen. Students from the school will portray the square as it is now. They will do this again when the square has been redesigned and after a few years. This allows us to visualize the real effects of the redesign. The students also contribute ideas about technical solutions. We share the knowledge and experiences we gain during and after the project with other projects in public space that face the same challenges.

Improving the environment

Seating elements, space for bicycles and a play element will be built around the green islands on the square. Much attention is paid to the accessibility of the square. We think it is important that it becomes a square for everyone. In addition to adjustments to the square, we are also looking at possible adjustments to the road structure around the square, so that traffic has a less negative influence on the experience of the square. In addition, we want to ensure less noise from traffic and a reduction of particulate matter in the area.


The timeline of Life Cool Square.

  • 2019

    Sketch design as part of the design manifestation

  • 2020

    Subsidy application submitted to the LIFE program EU

  • 2021

    Subsidy application approved and zero measurement of the location

  • 2023/2024

    Compose final design

  • 2024/2025

    Preparation and implementation of the work

  • 2025/2026

    Grand opening of the square

Impressions Damsterplein

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