1st Edition

The Randstad A Polycentric Metropolis

Edited By Wil Zonneveld, Vincent Nadin Copyright 2021
    382 Pages 55 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    382 Pages 55 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Randstad metropolitan region encompassing Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht in the western Netherlands is regarded worldwide as a model of a ‘successful’ polycentric metropolis. It is widely cited as an example of how a region of interconnected small cities can effectively compete globally by providing complementary functions which together match the power of large monocentric cities. The methods of strategic spatial planning, regional design and strategic projects that are said to underpin this polycentric metropolis are used as models for practitioners and students around the world.

    But is this high reputation deserved? Does the Randstad really function as a polycentric metropolis? The operation of the Randstad as a polycentric networked region is controversial both in terms of the actual strength of relations between its component parts, and the value of promoting polycentricity in policy. What are the costs and benefits of a Randstad metropolis? Does polycentricity improve the performance of the region in economic, social and environmental terms? How has the polycentric metropolis evolved and what part is played by its delta location? Has spatial planning made a difference in the form and operation of the region today? How will this spatial configuration fare in the face of the climate crisis and need to create healthy cities and regions? Is there benefit in pursuing the idea of a polycentric metropolis in government policy and action, and how?

    These questions are of critical interest within the Netherlands but experience in the Randstad offers valuable insights to many other complex urban regions around the world. This book will provide a critical analysis of the Randstad and lessons for strategic planning in other metropolitan regions.

    List of figures

    List of tables

    List of contributors


    PART I Introduction

    1 Introducing the Randstad: a polycentric metropolis

    Vincent Nadin and Wil Zonneveld

    PART II The origins of the Randstad

    2 The making of the urban structure of the Randstad

    Nikki Brand

    3 Urban conf igurations in a dynamic delta landscape

    Han Meyer

    4 Rotterdam: a dynamic polder city in the Randstad

    Fransje Hooimeijer

    5 The global petroleumscape in the Dutch Randstad: oilspaces and mindsets

    Carola Hein

    PART III The dynamics of a complex metropolitan region

    6 Randstad Holland between functional entity and political desire

    Evert Meijers, Martijn Burger and Frank Van Oort

    7 Randstad: spatial planning, polycentrism and urban networks

    Jan Ritsema Van Eck and Ries Van Der Wouden

    8 The Randstad and its mainports: towards new heterogeneous discourses in Dutch planning

    Luuk Boelens and Wouter Jacobs

    9 Impact of social housing on the social structure of the Randstad

    Marja Elsinga, Harry Van Der Heijden and Rosa Donoso Gomez

    10 Interaction in the Delta: culture, convention and knowledge clusters in the Randstad

    Maurits De Hoog

    PART IV Governance, planning and design

    11 Randstad: from a spatial planning concept to a place name

    Wil Zonneveld

    12 Governance and power in the metropolitan regions of the Randstad

    Marjolein Spaans, Wil Zonneveld and Dominic Stead

    13 In control of urban sprawl? Examining the effectiveness of national spatial planning in the Randstad, 1958–2018

    Ries Van Der Wouden

    14 Probing and planning the future of the Dutch Randstad

    David Evers and Jan Vogelij

    15 The (im)possible design of the Randstad: perspectives for the future

    Joost Schrijnen

    PART V Conclusion and outlook

    16 Conclusion and outlook

    Wil Zonneveld and Vincent Nadin



    Wil Zonneveld is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, and leader of the Section Spatial Planning and Strategy, Department of Urbanism in the Faculty of Architecture and Built Environment. He published extensively on Dutch and European spatial planning, with a particular emphasis on the conceptualization and design of space and territory. He is co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Regional Design.

    Vincent Nadin is Emeritus Professor of Spatial Planning and Strategy and former Head of the Department of Urbanism in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft. He is also Visiting Professor at South China University of Technology School of Architecture. He is joint author with the late Barry Cullingworth of the leading textbook Town and Country Planning in the UK, co-author of European Spatial Planning and Territorial Cooperation and Editor-in-Chief of the Routledge international peer-reviewed journal Planning Practice and Research.