DeltaLecture: The Final Debate - "Dutch metropolis is the best of the rest"
The Dutch Metropolitan Strategy for a polycentric network of smaller cities
The final edition of the DeltaLecture series was a debate about the future of the Dutch Randstad metropolis. The Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) and the Deltametropolis Association collaboratively organized this event to draw conclusions about the tIP series.
The Dutch metropolis is polycentric network of smaller cities in the Western part of the Netherlands. Together they form a metropolitan region with metropolitan qualities. From an international perspective this region, which consists of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague, among others, is one of the leading economic regions of the world. But how to plan or not plan such a region? Or, in other words, what should the Dutch Metropolitan strategy be? Counselors, private managers and scientists discussed this topic with each other and the audience.
According to one of the debaters, the Dutch metropolis is the best of the rest. It lacks the facilities of cities like New York and London, as well as a metropolitan look and feel, but it is very cheap
First, the international scale has to be embedded in the local context. International migrants, for instance, are a solid back bone of a developing metropole with built-in links to all kinds of regions all over the world. The potential of these groups should be used better.
Second, a focus change from thinking in centers and periphery to thinking in networks is needed.
Third, there’s a need for public spaces where people can meet and that focus on contemporary metropolitan programs.
Fourth, a change is needed from thinking sector-based to an integral approach.
All debaters agree with the statement that a new metropolitan strategy should not be lead by the government but rather by initiatives and coalitions in the private sector. As an example, The Hague alderman Norder created an online map of vacant space in The Hague in order to stimulate local initiatives to invest in the city through the temporary use of vacant space. The results, according to Norder, are great. Plenty of initiatives are being rolled out this way.
Production instead of knowledge
brains of the world. Also in other parts of the world the level of education and quality in Research & Development increases. These new economies level up in terms of knowledge and creativity, which makes an economy solely based on knowledge not very sustainable. In this part of the world metropolitan areas should be a programmatical combination between creativity and knowledge on the one hand, and production on the other hand. According to debaters Luuk Boelens and Jan Brouwer, the new Dutch metropolis needs a vision on this renewed production economy that deals with the issue of how to get these functions back.
The Flemish co-referent Joachim Declerck backs these ideas by explaining his thoughts for the Flemish urban network called ‘Vlaamse Ruit’. He talks about the modern metropolitan landscape as a renewed production fabric. A horizontal rearrangement of land is needed to give high quality productions functions the space they need.
Sex between urchins
As all discussions about the Dutch polycentric metropolis, this discussion also ends with some remarks about administrative integration. Norder explains the difficulties pretty well by stating that the efforts of The Hague and Rotterdam to work together as a metropolitan area is like sex between urchins. A historical background of centuries of competitions with each other is not easy to overcome in a couple of years.