Designing for Different Dynamics: The Search for a New Practice of Planning and Design in the Dutch Delta

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The Dutch delta is an example of a complex urban landscape, the result of different processes with different time frames. Such an urban landscape can be regarded as the product of mutual relationships between natural processes and human interventions. Since the 1970s, landscape architects and urban designers have tried to conceptualize these mutual relations between different processes using a ‘layer approach’—where substrate, infrastructures and land-use patterns are regarded as different urban layers with different speeds of change—based on the theories and methods of Braudel (La Mediterranee: La part du milieu. Colin, Paris, 1966) and McHarg (Design with Nature. Natural History Press, New York, 1969). The Dutch river and delta landscapes are an important laboratory for experimenting with new approaches which try to take into account the different dynamics of the different layers. The development of a ‘framework model,’ applied in the Dutch Room for the River program, a comprehensive spatial planning approach, is an initial attempt to create new relationships between the layers at the regional scale. It creates a balance between a clearly defined and designed framework, composed by natural elements and manmade infrastructures, and the possibility for local adaptations of urban and agricultural land use. However, as a long-term developmental strategy the framework should be adaptable to possible changes. The paper describes the attempt to develop a design approach for an adaptive framework in the Rotterdam region. Adaptive frameworks create the conditions for short-term societal changes as well as for long-term adaptation to possible changes of the natural substratum.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComplexity, Cognition, Urban Planning and Design
Subtitle of host publicationPost-Proceedings of the 2nd Delft International Conference
EditorsJ. Portugali, E.H. Stolk
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-32653-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-32651-1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameSpringer Proceedings in Complexity (SPCOM)


  • Complex urban landscapes
  • Adaptation
  • Layer-approach
  • Framework-model
  • Research-by-design
  • Room for the river
  • Robust adaptive framework


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