Centre of Applied Research Technology

Cool Cities: blueprint for urban heat resiliency

A process-oriented approach to climate adaptation


Due to climate change, European cities are experiencing higher temperatures more often and for longer periods of time. This puts people at greater risk of heat stress: they experience physical and mental complaints due to overheating. In the Cool Cities project, the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences is working together with international parties to make European cities more heat-resilient.

Middelburg, Seissingel (© Aart van Belzen)

Heatwaves have profound consequences for the livability of our cities. This can cause damage to greenery, buildings and infrastructure and increases the risk of heat stress among residents. Increasing urban density further exacerbates this, reducing access to thermally comfortable public spaces.

Many municipalities want to reduce heat stress, but often lack a spatial overview of where measures are needed. They commonly use meteorological data, remote sensing, and modelling to locate vulnerable areas. However, relying solely on these methods overlooks critical socio-environmental dynamics complicating the prioritization of redesign efforts without a detailed overview.

Cool Network

In the Cool Cities project, a group of international parties is working together to create a network of cool routes for walkers and cyclists and cool places in cities: a Cool Network. The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences has the lead in the first phase: developing a plan that can easily be employed by European municipalities to aid in urban heat resiliency. In the process of making this plan, the researchers seek to understand the barriers and opportunities for heat resiliency throughout the adaptation process – from process, to design, to implementation, to monitoring and evaluating.

In a later phase, the Cool Network will be tested with pilots in 6 cities: Rotterdam, Middelburg, Hamburg, Gottingen, Sint-Niklaas and Saint-Omer.

Saint-Omer, Ecole-Montaigne (© AUD Saint-Omer)


To develop the plan, the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences will survey the local situation of all participating cities and compare their policies on heat stress. This will serve as the basis for the Cool Network Plan and the local action program. The Cool Network Plan will be a citywide vision for a cool network. The Local Action Program will provide a concrete list of project sites with relevant contextual information that can help prioritize projects.

At the end of the project, the methods developed and lessons learned from the pilot cities will be integrated into a Cool Network Roadmap. This can help municipalities improve their urban heat resilience.


Research results find their way into education at the AUAS. This happens through lectures, graduation projects and minors for students, and in the field through presentations and climate adaptation courses for professionals.


Cool Cities is a four-year Interreg NSR project. Participating knowledge institutions are the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and Zentrum für Energie, Bauen, Architektur und Umwelt (ZEBAU). The Municipality of Arnhem is lead partner. Other participating cities are Rotterdam, Middelburg, Hamburg, Gottingen, Sint-Niklaas, Saint-Omer and Göteborg.

Research group Water in and around the City

This project falls under the lectorate Water in and around the City. More and heavier rainfall, prolonged drought and heat, and rising sea levels. The effects of climate change are being felt. The research group conducts practice-oriented research into how to organise cities in such a way that residents and users will be able to live, do business and be comfortable and secure in the future. With the insights from the research, government, businesses and residents can look forward to a climate-proof city.

Published by  Centre for Applied Research Technology 27 May 2024