Water Square Tiel opens

water square-Tiel-00-opening-photo-Jan-Bouwhuis
Water Square Opening in Tiel | Image Credit: © Jan Bouwhuis

Last week a new water square was opened in the Dutch city of Tiel (NL), designed by Dutch based office for urban design and landscape architecture De Urbanisten. While representatives of City of Tiel, the waterboard Rivierenland and the Province of Gelderland officially opened the square, children took over the site playing soccer on the sportsfield, biking the skate basins and climbing and gliding the red snake. The square is the ‘pièce de résistance’ in the redevelopment of the Vogelbuurt.


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The city of Tiel has to deal with several water related challenges like the risk of flooding, high groundwater and a need for waterstorage. In the ’Vogelbuurt’ an improvement of the built environment and the public space is smartly combined with solving these water problems. De Urbanisten were asked to design a central water square that has two functions. It is both a vivid place to play and linger and a temporary storage of rainwater.

In the middle of the square, a sports field is also the largest basin for the storage of rainwater. A ‘playful snake’ curls around the field; it’s a landscape with height variations that creates a sequence of smaller basins for transportation, extra water storage and infiltration. With its various slopes and heights, the landscape invites children and adults to use it for a wide range of activities. A generous amount of green surfaces frame this landscape and invite to relax and linger.


In the design process, children from the adjacent school participated. They created their own snake by cutting and pasting their favorite activities for the square. With their preferences, we gave all parts of the landscape a different shape and possible use: a natural playscape, an archipelago playground, a skatebasin and a sportsfield.

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With a regular rainfall, only water from the school is brought to the small basins where it can infiltrate, thanks to a raingarden and permeable paving. The central basin only floods during extreme cloudbursts or longer periods of extreme rainfall. It is filled with rainwater from the water sewage of the surrounding streets. It’s also the overflow for the undeep basins. Around 500 m3 can be stored on the square. Ultimately, when the stress period is over, the water is conducted back to the rainwater sewage system.

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Design | De Urbanisten
Skatepark | Lagado Architects (NL)
Water | Interdelta
Engineering | City of Rotterdam Engineering Bureau
Location | Tiel, The Netherlands
Period | 2014 – 2016
Client | Municipality of Tiel
Cost | € 500.000

About Damian Holmes 3294 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/