New book: Wil Zonneveld & Vincent Nadin (eds) (2021) The Randstad: A polycentric metropolis. Abingdon/New York: Routledge. 361 pages, 54 bw illustrations.


On New Year’s Eve Routledge published a new book in the series Regions and Cities: The Randstad: a polycentric metropolis. Edited by Wil Zonneveld and Vincent Nadin the book contains 16 chapters in total, many of which are prepared by present as well as former staff members of Urbanism. The book is organized in five sections. The introductory section presents an overview of some of the main characteristics of the Randstad and explains why the Randstad can be regarded as a polycentric metropolis as the subtitle of the book suggests. The following chapters are organised in three sections broadly following the structure of origins, operation, and planning of the Randstad. The book begins in Part II with a review of the history of the Randstad and explanation of how no one city evolved to dominate the region. The four chapters explain how the pattern of the Randstad’s spatial configuration and distribution of functions arises from the interplay of changing natural environmental conditions especially related to flood risk, waves of technological innovation from windmills to wind turbines, economic and social organisation, and strong government intervention.

Section III examines the contemporary operation of the Randstad as a metropolitan region and asks if the reality of functional relations meets the concept of polycentricity. The five chapters in this section demonstrate the different ways of understanding and measuring functional relationships and complementarity, and outline dominant themes in the discourse of urban development in the Randstad. Section IV reviews changing ideas about how government should organise itself to strengthen and exploit the Randstad, the actual outcomes in governance and policy, and the contribution of spatial planning to shaping its current form and performance. The editors conclude in the final part by returning to, and offering answers to the underlying questions of the book presented in the introduction. As the book was finalized in the middle of the present Covid-19 crisis the final chapter also discusses in brief whether the Randstad is still a valuable idea. Although many (including planners and designers) regard the Randstad as obsolete, the editors think otherwise: the value of a polycentric metropolis will become more not less important in the post-pandemic future. Avoiding damaging congestion caused by a sprawling metropolis was, is and remains to be a highly important objective.

You can download a sample chapter here: Introducing+the+Randstad+Chapter.

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