OverHolland 16/17: Architectural studies for the Dutch city


Henk Engel
TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
Esther Gramsbergen
TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
Henk Hoeks
Reinout Rutte
TU Delft, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment


This edition of OverHolland pays detailed attention to the province of Noord-Holland to the north of the River IJ and to railways. The focus is on the relationship between spatial arrangements, research and design. Reinout Rutte analyses the development of the Zaanstreek region from the fifteenth to the twenty-first centuries. He reveals the unique morphological features of the first industrial town in the Netherlands. The lack of planning and regulations led to a ‘town of strips’, unlike the conventional pattern of urbanisation that typifies cities such as Amsterdam, Haarlem and Alkmaar. The text by Reinout Rutte was previously published in Geschiedenis van de Zaan­streek [History of the Zaanstreek region]. Here we have placed the article, accompanied by new visual material, in the context of the research that has been carried out over recent years with the Province of Noord-Holland at the Faculty of Architecture at Delft Technical University. Part of this was previously published in OverHolland 12/13, when Henk Engel mapped out the distribution pattern of the towns and infrastructure in the Noorderkwartier region of Holland up to 1700. In this issue of OverHolland, he focuses attention on the spatial policy that the Province of Noord-Holland intends to implement over the coming decades. Encouraging public transport by train is the main aim; transitoriented development (TOD) the main theme.

In preparing its intended policy, the Province of Noord-Holland has commissioned a great deal of research. The province and Vereniging Delta­metropool (an association for metropolitan develop ment) presented the results in October 2013 under the title Maak Plaats! Werken aan knooppuntontwikkeling in Noord­Holland [Make Room: working on hub development in Noord-Holland]. One of the studies included in Maak plaats! was carried out by the research group Mapping the territory and the cities of the Randstad at the Faculty of Architecture of Delft Technical University. Drawing on the methodology used in the Groeikaart van de Randstad (1850­-2000)

[Growth map of the Randstad conurbation,  1850-2000], 22 station locations in the Noord-Holland area to the north of the Noordzeekanaal — the canal to the North Sea — were studied and analysed. In Drawings and calculations for the Zaan Corridor Henk Engel explains the general setup and the methodology for this study. He shows that the Groeikaart van de Randstad (1850­-2000) not only provides insights into the morphological composition of the various towns, but also that the cartographical records of the town expansions since 1850 yield new facts that can be used for calculation.

In the cross­section, Michiel Riedijk and Filip Geerts report on the contributions that the Faculty of Architecture made to the follow-up to Maak plaats! On the initiative of the research section of the BNA (Federation of Dutch Architects), Deltas, Infrastructures & Mobility Initiative (TU Delft) and the Province of Noord-Holland, an investigative design project was set up for the railway line from Amsterdam to Heer hugowaard. The results have been published under the title Onderweg! Vijftien ontwerpen voor Transit Oriented Development aan de Zaancorridor [Under way! Fifteen designs for transit-oriented development in the Zaan Corridor]. This shows clearly that investigative design in this context serves primarily to create a platform for the parties that will be playing a role in the implementation of the Province’s spatial policy. Investigative design sets a group process in motion. As one of the participants put it, ‘It’s all about the energy and the people who meet up to tackle this theme.’ The design acts as a conversation piece during workshops — the picture that is worth a thousand words — and thus far the key weapon in obtaining commitment has been ‘temptation’. This shows how lightweight architecture is in the current system — intolerably lightweight, even. Michiel Riedijk and Filip Geerts refuse to simply accept that. They took a strictly architectural, technical point of view for their work with the students.

In Euralille twenty years on, we seem to have left Noord-Holland behind... or have we? Euralille can be seen as the shining example for the type of planning processes that have now become standard practice. Manuela Triggianese describes the sequence of events when Euralille was created and wonders what degree of importance should be ascribed to the architectural planning in this kind of process. The role of Rem Koolhaas is often dismissed as that of a great tempter. In particular, the dream of Delirious New York in some provincial town or other and the suggestive images that leave all kinds of directions open were criticised, but also gained a following. In both cases, a key aspect of the work of Rem Koolhaas and OMA is missed. In the smoke spread by the magician, the surgeon’s knife does its work, following a strict methodology.

In Towns and ports on Walcheren and Zuid­Beveland between 1500 and 2000, Leo van den Burg zooms in on the fate of the towns in the southwestern delta. Continuing on from Reinout Rutte’s Four hundred years of urban development in the Scheldt Estuary in OverHolland 12/13, he shows that the towns and businesses were in the past continually making efforts to retain or strengthen their own positions in the network of relationships. The possibility of planning railways opened up a new horizon in the nineteenth century for strategic spatial thinking on a previously unheard-of scale. The plan for a railway line from Middelburg to Germany by the Zeelander Dirk Dronkers is evidence of this. The opening of the railway line from Vlissingen to Bergen op Zoom in 1872 did not work out as he had anticipated, as is often the case with large-scale visions. For Leo van den Burg, Dronkers’ plan however also demonstrates that the vast scale that spatial strategies are implemented on means that they only have a chance of succeeding if the appeals by local actors are looked upon favourably by a national authority. This raises the question for a port and its town of whether the common destiny that they have always shared in the past has been essentially changed by the primacy of the nation state  in terms of spatial planning.

In the Polemen section, Jaap Evert Abrahamse reviews the wonderful study by Clí© Lesger, Het winkellandschap van Amsterdam. Stedelijke structuur en winkelbedrijf in de vroegmoderne en moderne tijd, 1550-­2000 [Amsterdam’s retail landscape: Urban structure and shops in the early modern and modern periods, 1550-2000]. Iskandar Paní© adds another review taking a critical look at the publication Dutch Dikes, written and illustrated by LOLA Landscape Architects.


August 14, 2017

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ISBN-13 (15)


Date of first publication (11)


Physical Dimensions

230mm x 220mm