Van Leeuwenhoek Lecture on BioScience - Nico Tillie (TUD): 'Synergetic Urban Landscape Planning – Urban metabolism and the use of city data in Rotterdam to plan for a city as a sustainable ecosystem'



16:00 hrs


Gorlaeus laboratories, new entrance (Bètacampus), LUMY 04.28


Nico Tillie teaches at Delft University of Technology in Landscape Architecture. He holds two Msc. degrees (from Wageningen University): in plant breeding & genetics (taxonomy) as well as in landscape architecture.

He has lectured in numerous places across the world. He is finishing his PhD in liveable low carbon cities and synergetic urban landscape planning exploring how cities can become sustainable urban ecosystems.


At present Nico works as a researcher and lecturer at the TUD, Urbanism Department,  section Landscape Architecture and is involved in international projects. He is vice president and director of the European Office of the World Council on City Data, the global registry for ISO37120 on city indicators,  where he links international and local city data to challenges in cities for informed decision making.  He is a senior fellow of the Global Cities Institute of the University of Toronto and representative of the German Marshall Fund in Washington DC.

In the last 15 years he worked for the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, Paul van Beek Landschappen,  and in the City of Rotterdam on various projects ranging from phylogenetic studies in the genus Iris, to (urban) ecology, to urban energy and water systems, planting schemes, the Museum Park Design, urban metabolism and citywide densification, adaptation and mitigation plans. He led the city of Rotterdam main project for International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2012 (densification + greening= sustainable city) plus the 2014 Urban by Nature, urban metabolism entry and was involved in the IABR 2005.

Furthermore, he writes for garden magazines and lectures on planting, botanical field trips and gardens. He is chairman of the Foundation Friends of Rock Garden Ber Slangen.


SULP or Synergetic Urban Landscape Planning is introduced as an approach or way of thinking about how we deal with our urban living environments. Combined effect of the interaction of two or more agents in our living environment so that their sum is bigger than the sum of their individual effects (Synergy), occur in cities but can be enhanced more when planned for. In fact, with challenges such as climate change, energy transition, decline of biodiversity and so on, every urban intervention should improve the environmental performance of our living environment. Urban landscape planning is approached from a landscape architectural perspective in cities. This presentation will use the city of Rotterdam as a case study to show how the urban flows of water, energy and food can be improved and how synergies can be planned. Next steps should be researched how to improve the biodiversity in our cities and to reach for biophilic cities, green roofs and green walls are just a start. The answers lay in the overlap between many different disciplines. And how to scale up? The urban system worldwide with its flows, actors and areas can be improved using city data. Start comparing and learning from each other, using the same data. Therefore local city data , CBS, the World Council on City Data, ISO37120 and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) play an interesting role in reaching these goals.