Browser not supported

You are using an old browser that we do not support anymore. Please consider using a modern web browser such as Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome or Firefox for the best website experience.

Village Square, Raalte, Netherlands

Smart Irrigation of Urban Greenery

Increasing weather extremes pose growing challenges for urban design. To maintain the quality of life in cities and reduce the impacts of climate change, sustainable rainwater management systems are essential. They ensure that valuable water resources are sensibly distributed, especially during drought periods, and drinking water is conserved.

In a new project, ACO, in cooperation with IAA Architekten (Architects), its own planning experts, and with the involvement of the Raalte community and civil society, has developed an intelligent irrigation system for trees. This system automatically and precisely irrigates tree quarters using sensors.

The first public project was created as part of the redesign of the center of the Dutch city of Raalte. The goal was to enhance the quality and attractiveness of the downtown area around the central village squares, Grote Markt and De Plas.

Project at a glance

Project: Transformation Grote Markt / De Plas

Client: Gemeente Raalte, Netherlands

Design Phase: 2020-2021

Construction Phase: 2022

Urban Trees for a Healthy Climate
Urban trees have a significant impact on the microclimate. They not only create an appealing atmosphere but also help mitigate the effects of climate change. Unlike stones and asphalt, which heat up significantly, trees provide shade and store water, significantly influencing the near-surface air temperature. Additionally, they produce oxygen, bind particulate matter, purify the air, and absorb sound. While sealed surfaces can lead to flooding, planted areas allow rainwater to infiltrate, relieving the drainage system. However, to fully benefit from these properties, adequate irrigation is necessary.

Fully Automated System Ensures Efficient and Sustainable Irrigation
In the project to redesign the central village squares Grote Markt and De Plas, a total of twelve tree quarters were installed and planted, optimally and automatically irrigated with rainwater by the smart irrigation system developed by ACO.

Using a drainage channel, the collected rainwater is stored in a cistern.

This water is then available for irrigating the tree quarters. Excess water is channeled into the groundwater through an infiltration trench. The water needs of the native plants and trees are determined by various sensors installed in the tree quarters, collecting data on soil moisture, water level, temperature, and air pressure. The current weather forecast is also integrated into the irrigation control.

As soon as one of the planting pits becomes too dry, the appropriate valves for individual water supply are activated in a specially set up underground technical room. Once configured, the system operates completely automatically. The data can be viewed and controlled via a dashboard or mobile phone. The smart irrigation system is suitable for both new plantings and existing trees.

Reduction of Costs and CO2 Emissions
Automation optimizes the irrigation of urban greenery with minimal water usage. This eliminates costs that would otherwise be incurred for manual irrigation, such as vehicle, fuel, maintenance, and staff, and also reduces CO2 emissions. Additionally, it decreases noise and traffic obstacles.