CROSSING BORDERS IN THE NORTH WEST EUROPEAN MEGALOPOLIS
[Project proposal IABR 2014]
Urban development is resulting in the formation of large-‐scale urban landscapes, crossing national borders , and creating the necessity to reconsider the relationships among urban configurations in different national territories.
One of examples of this process is the formation of the North-‐west European Megalopolis, including the Randstad Holland, the German Ruhr area, the Flemish Diamond, the French Lille-‐Roubaix region and South-‐east England. This European region tends to function as one urban system. However the national borders still function as separation lines between different national territories with different cultures and institutional settings concerning spatial planning and design. This condition is frustrating a more efficient and fruitful spatial cohesion of the urban system as a whole.
The project aims to show the possibilities of new spatial configurations at the scale of this urban system as a whole. The project will focus especially on the region of the Dutch province Noord-‐ Brabant and the Flemish province Vlaanderen. The Netherlands and Belgium are two neighbouring countries, but at the same time they have very different traditions and models of spatial planning and urban design. Yet in since the 1990s both regions have started to look with renewed interest to each other as spatial development trends and the increasing ‘network society’ emphasise their inter-‐ linkages. Slow urban growth in the Netherlands encourages the Dutch to take a serious look at Belgian concepts or urbanisation. In turn, the Belgians are confronted with serious problems arising from fragmented growth and have examined very different spatial outcomes from the meticulous Dutch planning system. Is an innovative cross-‐border coherence and a combined ‘lowland spatial strategy’ emerging?
Studying the possibilities and opportunities of this region more closely, will create new insights which will be relevant for the whole urban system of the North-‐west European megalopolis.
For the project the European Masters of Urbanism (EMU) of the TU Delft will work with a group of postgraduate students on the Dutch-‐Flemish border region, in collaboration with our EMU-‐partner KU Leuven (Bruno De Meulder), the Province of Noord-‐Brabant (Joks Janssen) and Ruimte Vlaanderen (Marijke Maes), supported by Team Vlaams Bouwmeester. Areas of focus within this border regions are Genk-‐Eindhoven, Antwerpen-‐Breda and Gent –Terneuzen. The contrasts in the area are strong: spatially and economically. The region around Eindhoven (Brainport) is booming and in strong need of qualified employees and attractive living conditions, while the Genk region is in the doldrums now thousands of factory workers are to be laid off after Ford will dismantle their automobile plant there in 2014. What do these regions have in common? What can they learn from each other? And does a more common future built on cross-‐border collaborative approach to spatial planning offer a more stable one?
The topic of this research and design exercise is to formulate new alliances, institutional settings and strategies that may steer the evolution of the region more coherently towards shared goals for its spatial socio-‐economic structure.
Analysis and diagnosis of current situation and its history
Concept for new governance alliances and a cross-‐border spatial structure
Elaborated in a governance and a spatial evolutionary strategy, illustrated in a concise number of key steps and projects
A wallpaper story and short animation (c 5 min.)