Tristate City Vintage

Read on

Imagine: ‘The Battle of the Cities’. The Dutch employers organisation VNO-NCW and the real estate developer CBRE think there is a battle going on in this world. They wanna be winners. Mr. Peter Savelberg, a Dutch consultant, proposes a city of 30 million inhabitants. VNO NCW and CBRE decided to sponsor him. His TristateCity covers the whole of the Netherlands, the Rhine-Ruhr Area and Belgium. He even made a map of his transnational conurbation, its size even bigger than Jean Gottmann’s Megalopolis of 1962. Mr. Savelberg, who is a professional in real estate and marketing, thinks it’s gonna be the most powerful urban power center of the world. Yes, we’re going to beat the Chinese! We need transport corridors that are connecting all three rings of rather small-size cities. The so-called Randstad is just the inner ring. A second ring connects Middelburg, Goes, Tilburg, Breda, Eindhoven, Zwolle, Leeuwarden; a third ring binds Ostende, Ghent, Brussels, Maastricht, Aachen, Cologne, Duisburg, Enschede, Groningen together – this last ring is even wider than the outer ring of Greater-Beijing or the MKAD of Greater-Moscow. The outer ring is shrinking, the future of the middle ring is fishy, even parts of the Randstad are suffering a Rust Belt condition. Mr. Savelberg’s scheme reminded me of a diagram and an old idea: in 1898 the British inventor Ebenezer Howard thought a diagram like this would make sense. He was wrong. The Soviets tried. It only generated congestion.

The problem with Mr. Savelberg’s TristateCity is its scale too, of course. It’s simply too grand, too megalomanic, too much out of control, lacking any decent governance. The whole idea is also not liveable and sustainable, and worse, what it lacks are agglomeration economies. You remember the corridors-discussion of the nineties? See the result. The future Mr. Savelberg and his powerful sponsors seem to propose looks almost like Soviet or Fascist style planning of the twentieth century. On the website of Tristate City, the organisations that support Mr. Savelberg refer to the Pearl River Delta, a conurbation of 60 million inhabitants. So that is their adversary. Are they aware of the fact that Chinese planning schemes on this huge scale have a communist background? I doubt it. And do they see the difference between Pearl River delta and the Tristate City?: one is full of peasant-immigrants and growing very fast, while the other is ageing and shrinking. Mr. Hans de Boer, president of the Dutch employers organisation, thinks it is just a great way to present the Netherlands to the world. Is it? I think it is ingenious. As a planner I even feel embarrassed. No, we should be very worried. 

Mr. Savelberg commented:

“Jammer dat u niet even contact heeft opgenomen/zich echt ordentelijk heeft verdiept in ons MARKETING-model; het gaat hier natuurlijk geenszins om een ruimtelijk ontwikkel model; laat staan om een ruimtelijke ambitie.

Op dit moment wonen er al lang 30 miljoen mensen in dit gebied en dat zal ook niet hard groeien. Ook nemen wij de Pearl River Delta absoluut NIET als voorbeeld voor onze Lage Landen. In tegendeel, wij stipuleren juist dat ons organisch gegroeide model van netwerk van kleine steden op vele fronten als voorbeeld kan dienen voor alles wat er nu mis gaat bij de onbeheerste urbanisatie in o.a. China.

Wel geven wij een antwoord op de huidige inefficiente en gefragmenteerde citymarketing van vele kleine steden en hun bestuurders. Dat wordt overigens door velen op prijs gesteld (ook in de academische wereld).”





4 responses to “Tristate City Vintage”

  1. peter savelberg Avatar
    peter savelberg

    Sorry you feel this way Zef; if you would have taken the effort to read ‘between the lines’ ….. This is a city-marketing information model; there are already 30 million people living in the Tristatecity area and it is NOT an urban development scheme in any way. Your qualifications are therefore unjustified. Next time please be better informed before spreading your comments. Have a nice day anyway!

  2. peter savelberg Avatar
    peter savelberg

    Beste Zef, je bent slecht geïnformeerd en gebruikt hele grote woorden op een ongenuanceerde wijze. Wonderlijk. Het gaat hier helemaal NIET om een ontwikkelingsvisie van stedenbouwkundige aard! Het gaat om een vernieuwende presentatiewijze waarbij wij de ca 100 mooie kleine steden in hun groene setting als verbonden urban netwerk aan de wereld willen presenteren. Er wonen nu al ruim 30 miljoen mensen in dit gebied. We hebben 8 universiteiten in de wereld top 100 en meer dan 25.000 slimme innovatie MKB-bedrijven. Onze internationale (city)marketing is echter versnipperd en gefragmenteerd, En daar bieden wij een informatiemodel voor. Volgende keer svp je wat beter verdiepen voordat je zo’n commentaar de wereld in stuurt. Vriendelijke groet, Peter Savelberg

  3. peter savelberg Avatar
    peter savelberg

    And in English: Dear Mr Hemel, you painfully misinterpreted our MARKETING-model! TristateCity is in NOT in any way a scheme for urban planning!! There are already 30 million people living in this magnificent urban network of small and beautiful cities. And we would very much like to keep it that way. Your comments therefore are wrong and only show that you were not very well informed when writing them.

  4. Rianne Avatar

    Dear Zef,

    Interested, as a spatial planning student myself, in the Tristate City concept, could you maybe enlighten me on the name of the diagram of E. Howard, or is it the Garden City Concept that you’re referring to? I’d like to do some further research on the subject.

    Thank you in advance,


Geef een reactie

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *