Cool Tree Architecture: A Descriptive Framework for a Tree Architecture Typology to Temper Urban Microclimates

René van der Velde*, Saskia de Wit, Michiel Pouderoijen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Downloads (Pure)


As the elementary unit of the urban forest, trees temper thermal extremes in urban microclimates through shading and evapotranspiration, and by altering the movement of air. Metrics on shade performances of different species, however, are currently limited, which can be remedied by the development of a method to describe the range of species and cultivars via a structured overview of physical characteristics impacting radiation reflectivity, absorptivity, and transmissivity. This paper proposes a descriptive framework based on the concept of “tree architecture,” which has developed into a recognized field of plant study from the perspective of their physiognomy, morphology, and morphogenesis. The framework describes various architectural sub-traits within the overall trait categories of Crown, Wood, and Foliage. The descriptive framework can be used to develop a “Cool Tree Architecture Typology” (C-TAT), in which trees can be organized into similar types based on common physical characteristics. Further elaboration of sub-traits using observations of trees in controlled field laboratories resulted in new derivative classes for use as key in classifications for the C-TAT. The C-TAT can be used to organize the many species and cultivars occurring in, for example, Cfb Atlantic climate zone cities, to a lesser number of architectural types. This allows for more rapid evaluation and cooling performance calculations of tree inventories and can also be of value in assisting tree managers to propose more accurate thermal performance standards for trees in urban projects. The elaboration of tree architecture from an urban microclimate perspective complements existing elaborations and approaches in the field of tree architecture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-43
Number of pages14
JournalLandscape Architecture Frontiers
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2023


Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • tree architecture
  • urban heat island
  • climate adaptation
  • urban microclimate amelioration
  • cool tree architecture typology


Dive into the research topics of 'Cool Tree Architecture: A Descriptive Framework for a Tree Architecture Typology to Temper Urban Microclimates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this