Sustainable use of land and nature based solutions

GreenQuays - Urban River Regeneration through Nature Inclusive Quays

In the coming years, Breda is fully committed to sustainability in the broadest sense of the word. GreenQuays matches perfectly with our ambition to be the first European city in a green park by 2030. With the European contribution we can, together with our partners, devise, test and implement solutions that result in a green river Nieuwe Mark that offers living space for a rich flora and fauna. In this way, the river makes an even more vital contribution to a liveable city center.

Paul de Beer, Alderman for Urban Development and Sponge City
The project in numbers
7.500 m2
urban area in Breda renatured
183 873
inhabitants of which 14.890 live in the city center. This results in a population density of 7.454 inhabitants per km2
EUR 4 699 229
Total ERDF budget granted
Challenge addressed

Like many other cities in Europe, Breda is struggling with the choices of unsustainable urbanization from the past, deterioration of urban ecosystems and a lack of resilience to climate change. This requires innovative solutions that ensure that residents of cities can continue to live in a liveable city in the future. 
The quality of urban environment in Europe is at serious risk due to intense urbanisation in the last decades (74% of people living in cities), which is expected to increase to 83.7% by 2050. An increasing number of cities struggle with the challenges of unsustainable urbanisation, degradation of urban ecosystems, lack of resilience to climate change and non-inclusive urban planning. This calls for local authorities to act swiftly, providing citizens with healthy and liveable conditions through sustainable development and regeneration, to mainstream and promote nature-based solutions as a tool to create sustainable, resilient and liveable cities. There is a growing need for better urban management in the context of scarce land resources and the potential benefits of using nature to address the challenges of cities.
The drivers of urban degradation vary according to the ecosystems and locations, but the key pressures include grey infrastructure expansion, pollution of land, hydrological modifications to water bodies, and climate change in general. These affect the ecosystems’ ability to function, deliver ecosystem services and meet other challenges, such as flood damage control, and the provision of liveable places and recreational opportunities.

Solution proposed

The GreenQuays project aims to develop and test "green" technology, specifically designed to support the development of a vertical ecosystem and to create conditions for the growth of herbaceous plants, ferns and mosses. The Green Quays project is a nature-inclusive development of the quays and surrounding (green) public space. Various techniques are used to achieve this, such as tree sections in the quay walls, material choices and drainage system. The combination of these different techniques applied in an inner-city context makes this project unique. 

  • Municipality of Breda
  • The Baronie Area Federation of Nature Associations
  • Stadshart-Valkenburg Residents' Association 
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Wageningen University and Research
  • Waterboard Brabantse Delta - regional water authority
  • Van den Berk Nurseries - private company
Expected results

GreenQuays project’s MAIN OBJECTIVE is the realisation of sustainable urban renaturation in Breda using nature inclusive regenerative solutions - green quays linked to public green spaces - as part of a bigger scheme targeting the urban restoration of the river Mark. Expected results:
•    new technical solutions and approaches for implementation of regenerative urban renewal in the river Mark
•    a participatory planning process for inclusive co-creation of public space to adequately address the needs and desires of citizens, and to contribute to the strengthening of local communities
•    an optimal green environment for flourishing flora and fauna through renaturing the grey infrastructure currently surrounding the river based on technical solutions and participatory inputs
•    a network of green public areas alongside the river establishing a living cohabitation between nature and people 
•    optimization of said solutions 1) to be scaled-up throughout the New Mark urban renewal strategy adopted by Breda; and 2) to be replicated elsewhere in Europe 
•    showcase a sustainable urban river renaturation process in densely built urban areas aiming at the restoration of ecosystems; the greening of urban environment

Main milestones

April 2020: Small scale is build in the Nieuwe Mark
May 2020: Launch event
April 2021: Start building real life pilot
December 2020: Detailed holistic design of the network of green infrastructure in the pilot site
August 2022: Real-life pilot is realized
August 2022:  Municipal Guide on Renaturing the New Mark

The project in numbers
7.500 m2
urban area in Breda renatured
183 873
inhabitants of which 14.890 live in the city center. This results in a population density of 7.454 inhabitants per km2
EUR 4 699 229
Total ERDF budget granted
Contact of the project
Veerle Hemerik
Project manager
Birgit Georgi
UIA Expert

Project news & events

people watching the opening ceremony

Green Quays from a citizen perspective

Green Quays offers valuable lessons for harmonising urban developments with the desires and needs of their citizens. It has been a radically innovativ...
Image of the built GreenQuays from above

"You have to take risks to advance - also as a politician."

It is done! September 2023 – the GreenQuays have been built. In the middle of Breda, a new stretch of the river Mark has been uncovered and a new type...
construction of the GreenQuays

The GreenQuays project on its last mile - Journal 3

The third Journal of GreenQuays explores how the project continues to deal with seven general implementation challenges of innovative project as well ...
Monitoring a quay wall by volunteers

Volunteers play an important role in GreenQuays’ biodiversity monitoring

The main innovative feature of the GreenQuays in Breda is to build them nature-inclusive. For achieving this, the construction will lay the foundation...
Left: construction work on the quays. right: visualisation of greened quays

Bringing to life Breda’s nature-inclusive quays

This Zoom in 2 looks into the experience, challenges and lessons learned with developing the multifunctional design and the implementation. Can it be ...
Plant grow on the drystackwall

Ideas from the GreenQuays project start stretching beyond the initial plans

While most of the innovative tasks of planning the quays and testing different technical solutions have finished, GreenQuays is still running with the...
construction work

Finally digging of the GreenQuays starts

After 2,5 years of preparation the construction of the GreenQuays has started end of June 2022. A first stretch of the covered river Mark in Breda‘s c...
Creating a Map of opportunities

City safari and Map of opportunities – testing new co-creation forms in Breda

Breda is on the way to re-open its first pilot section of the broader river Mark projects, in which the city will bring back the old river Mark in the...
Visualisation of an implemented part of the green ways

Making Breda’s nature-inclusive quays also climate-responsive

GreenQuays will be a first stretch of the reopened River Mark project in the city centre. The project will enable nature to take the space despite t...
Interview participants

GreenQuays Zoom-in 1: Making Breda’s nature-inclusive quays health-inclusive

The GreenQuays project in Breda aims to develop and establish nature-inclusive quays. Although it was not in focus when developing the project, this Z...
plants growing in wall

GreenQuays Journal 2: Progress on tackling the major implementation challenges

The second Journal of GreenQuays explores how the project continues to deal with the seven major implementation challenges of innovative projects....
Ivy-leaved Toadflax growing in joints between bricks

Making trees and wall plants thrive at steep quay walls

Building nature-inclusive quays is the task of the GreenQuays project and, at the same time, its challenge. How can nature be offered space in a dense...
Showing a map of the GreenQuays design

Finding the right design for nature-inclusive quays

The mindset on designing and using public urban space has changed in Breda in the 1990’s. Earlier, the city had decided to cover completely the origin...
Plantgrowth in a wall in special mortar.

The brickwork story behind GreenQuays

Nature-Inclusive Quays (NIQ) are the core of innovative solutions of the GreenQuays project in Breda. The vertical quay walls of the reopened river Ma...
Checking vegetation grow on the walls of the small-scale pilot

GreenQuays Journal 1: the seven major implementation challenges

The first Journal of GreenQuays explores how the project deals with seven major implementation challenges of innovative projects....
An innovative partnership for innovative GreenQuays in Breda

An innovative partnership for innovative GreenQuays in Breda

Coming to the GreenQuays project team in Breda for the first time in June 2020, I have been hooked by the creative design of the planned nature-inclus...
Future green quays in Breda

Enabling nature to take over – green quay walls in Breda

Breda is a lovely city. The dense middle-age centre has many small streets and places to stroll around. This density does, however, leave only little ...

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