The real blind spot

Read in ‘Blind spot’ (2016) of Vereniging Deltametropool:


Got a free copy of ‘Blind spot’, a Dutch glossy on metropolitan landscapes. Huge pictures, huge maps, huge volume. The well designed publication “aims to illustrate the quality of a metropolitan landscape contributing to the economic success of the region by analyzing and drawing comparison from ten international case studies”: Rhein-Ruhr, London, Toronto, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Paris, Johannesburg, Milan, Taipei and Deltametropolis. Deltametropolis is a summation of cities and villages in the Netherlands, totalling a number of 10 million inhabitants, which makes a territory more than double the size of the former Randstad area. That means half of the country is included, half is excluded. The authors claim the one half is a metropolis. Which it is not, of course, because it is more countryside than city, a chaotic suburban landscape filled with highways, airports, railway tracks, shopping malls, green houses, factory outlet centers, golf courses, stables, office parks. Still, the promotors think it is green and it should be protected. That’s why they are lobbying with the help of this new glossy, comparing their work with those of colleagues in London, Paris and Rio. “Do we use the metropolitan landscape to our economic advantage and do we invest enough in its development and conservation?” Apparently they want more investments in landscape designing and engineering, so they are lobbying for themselves, hoping for a strong client. And yes, Dutch landscape architects were hard hit by the financial crisis.

Distressing is how these architects and government institutions systematically misinterpret cities and governance issues of metropolitan regions. “Despite several attempts since the 1950s, the ‘Randstad’ metropolitan region in the west of the Netherlands has never produced a single metropolitan government. The rural and equalitarian spirit of Dutch politics, with preference towards several smaller independent cities as opposed to a single cosmopolitan center of power and culture, largely explains the lack of an overarching governing body.” Apparently they lack a planning background. I mean, which of the ten metropolitan regions mentioned in this glossy has an overarching governing body? Zero. Why? Because they develop themselves bottom-up. Why exaggerating the Dutch metropolis? It simply does not exist. Why asking for a strong government? Central government in the Netherlands is already too strong. The whole atmosphere of the glossy gives off an odor of strong centralized authoritarianism: a romantic yearning for large scale design interventions, big money, state power, top-down planning. Nothing learned from the crisis. That’s the real blind spot.






2 responses to “The real blind spot”

  1. Freek Kluen Avatar
    Freek Kluen

    Zef, I totally agree with your analysis. I world like to make an additional remark that zooms in on the Dutch situation. With high expectations they look at the governomental capital the Hague instead of looking at the country’s capital and actual economic capital Amsterdam. Its a bit like a small portion of very tasty sandwich spread (which is actually the Dutch impact, globally seen, on themes like innovation and economic pardigmatic shift): do not disperse it on too great a surface; it will become tasteless and without meaning to the global community. Instead concentrate it on a small piece of bread (Amsterdam) and the global community will state wow! Thats really good! Wanna have more of it know more of it. This process will help the area’s avond this tasty converging spot

  2. Chaja Heyning Avatar
    Chaja Heyning

    Hoi Zef

    Vind je repliek een beetje afwijken van de werkelijkheid vwb. de groene gebieden van onze Deltametropool.

    Eens dat onze Deltametropool geen echte metropool is maar veeleer een metropolitan area. Kijk maar naar o.a. de UN definities van metropolen, megapolen en metropolitan areas:
    – metropolis: a build up area counting 5 – 10 million people;
    – megapole or megacity: areas of continuous urban development (built-up urban area) by growing together and integration (conurbation, agglomeration) of the city and its suburbs including former hamlets and towns of different administrative and political borders -there are megacities of 2-30 million peolple.
    – metropolitan area is fundamentally different as it is above all economic and applies to connected/coherent labour markets between its build up urban areas, cities and/or conurbations. A metropolitan area also includes substantial intervening rural (non-urban) territory or areas of discontinuous urban development (beyond the developed urban fringe). Nederland in zijn gehele maakt weer deel uit van de internationaal metropolitan area bestaande uit België, N. Frankrijk, delen W, Duitsland: het grootste landbouwexport gebied in Europa en 2e in de wereld.

    Dan het groene deel: dat is toch echt veel minder versnipperd dan je suggereert. Ga maar eens fietsen of schaatsen in Waterland pal buiten Amsterdam: een prachtig weids landschap. Of wandelen in de Kennemer waterleidingduinen of Meijendaal (bij Den Haag) annex Noordzeestrand. Of zeilen op de westeinder/Kaag plassen. Of bezoek de mooie delen van ons Groene Hart waar je nog ooievaars kunt spotten.
    Natuurlijk is er ook veel ‘verrommeld’ maar niet in de mate die ik in jouw tekst lees -gelukkig maar.


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