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Posts Tagged ‘city’

Here is an inspiring clip about sounds and the city:

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City Rat Race

If you really, really miss the city (or live on the countryside for whatever reason) you can do like artist Burden and create it yourself. Check his marvelous Metropolis II installation out here.

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It has been relatively quiet at Cityness. I’ve been awfully busy with teaching and research, and there was not that much to report in terms of all things urban. But a few things happened here and there, and some comments are deserved.

The main news this month was that the government proposed to merge three (or two) Provinces into one metropolitan region around Amsterdam. This is an incarnation of a debate that is going on ever since sir Peter Hall added the ‘Randstad Holland’ to his list of world cities. This time, the provinces of North-Holland, Flevoland and Utrecht would merge to create one big administrative unit. The proposal was barely out or parties started a public fight about many issues, including whether Utrecht should be considered part of Amsterdam or not. It all sounds a bit too familiar. The most noticeable point was the absence of Rotterdam or Den Haag or South-Holland in the whole debate. And as it happened, the mayors of both cities announced their own plan to form a metropolitan region. Call me a cynic but I find it highly suspicious that Rotterdam and Den Haag rarely agreed on anything for the past decades and would change their stance overnight. Surely not. And to those who think that redrawing administrative boundaries accelerate decision-making: if people don’t want to cooperate they will not cooperate, regardless of hierarchies or boundaries.

Meanwhile, public organizations are quietly working on the intergration of the public transport in the Randstad. That seems sensible. ┬áThere is much going on in this part of the country. Public transport covers a bewildering range of means and ends, ranging from ultra-short tramlinks (former Utrecht-Houten) to international high-speed railroads (Amsterdam-Paris, and possible a direct link to London in the future). Old railroads have been converted to new light-rail, bus services have been put out to tender and quite successfully so. Attempts are now made to integrate the system, which will help to increase its attractiveness and make traveling the Randstad a whole lot smoother. I find this way of thinking better than abstract discussions about who is Amsterdam and who isn’t. Click here for a marvelous map of the Randstad and its current and future public transport links.

Other news: the Rotterdam Economic Development Board published a report in which it assessed the state of Rotterdam. Its main conclusion is that much is needed to get Rotterdam back on track. I felt tired reading the same thing over and over again and I think that it is time to judge the city in its own right rather than repeating the same mantra (not enough high incomes) and medicine (build houses for high incomes). I read the report and felt a creative vacuum. Sure, the city could do with more people and higher incomes but no one mentions the main real issues that will prevent this from happening: (a) the municipality is not in the position to build housing for another 30.000 people, and (b) where would these people come from in a country whose population is already shrinking? And even if that magic wand was found and 30.000 people and houses were conjured up… would that change the city considerably? Path-dependency suggests it won’t. Live with it. But my main complaint is that it really doesn’t help anybody to suggest the city council to build more. There is no money, there are no legal instruments that can do that, there are no people to live in those houses. It makes one eager to develop a counter-plan…

I like my city rough and tough. It has been like this for centuries, it won't change. It is good in its own right. Picture of the Maassilo by me.

 

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