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

  • Han Meyer
  • Steffen Nijhuis
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Complexity book series (SPCOM)


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 .


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


  1. P.H.S. Berkhout, I. Terluin (eds.), Landbouw-Economisch Bericht 2014 (Wageningen, LEI/WUR, 2014)Google Scholar
  2. F. Braudel, La Medtiterranee: La part du milieu (Laibrairie Armand Colin, Paris, 1966)Google Scholar
  3. F. Burel, J. Baudry, Landscape Ecology. Concepts, Methods and Applications (Science Publishers, Enfield, 2003)Google Scholar
  4. R. Campanella, Mississippi river delta, USA, in Urbanized Deltas in Transition, ed. by H. Meyer, S. Nijhuis (Techne Press, Amsterdam, 2014), pp. 23–32Google Scholar
  5. Council of Europe, European Landscape Convention (Florence, 2000)Google Scholar
  6. E. Dammers et al., Scenario’s maken voor milieu, natuur en ruimte: een handreiking (PBL, Den Haag, 2013)Google Scholar
  7. E. Dammers, A. Bregt, J. Edelenbos, H. Meyer, B. Pel, Urbanized deltas as complex adaptive systems: implications for planning and design. Built Environ. 40(3), 156–168 (2014a)Google Scholar
  8. E. Dammers, J. Edelenbos, B. Pel, L. Pols, Visievorming voor een complexe delta, in Nieuwe Perspectieven voor een Verstedelijkte Delta. Naar een aanpak van planvorming en ontwerp, ed. by H. Meyer, A. Bregt, E. Dammers, J. Edelenbos (MUST Publishers, Amsterdam, 2014b), pp. 155–172Google Scholar
  9. D. De Bruin, D. Hamhuis et al., Ooievaar. De toekomst van het rivierengebied (Stichting Gelderse Milieufederatie, Arnhem, 1987)Google Scholar
  10. Delta Committee, “Working Together with Water.” A living land builds for its future (The Hague, 2008)Google Scholar
  11. F.J.H. Don, H.J.J. Stolwijk, Kosten en baten van het Deltaplan. Land en Water 3(43), 20–21 (2003)Google Scholar
  12. A. Faludi, A. van der Valk, Rule and Order: Dutch Planning Doctrine in the Twentieth Century (Kluwer, Dordrecht, 2010)Google Scholar
  13. K. Kerkstra, P. Vrijlandt, Landscape planning for industrial agriculture: a proposed framework for rural areas. Landscape Urban Plann. 18(3–4), 275–287 (1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. K. Kerkstra, P. Vrijlandt, Het landschap van de zandgebieden. Probleemverkenning en oplossingsrichting (Staatsbosbeheer, Utrecht, 1991)Google Scholar
  15. F. Klijn, M. Kok, H. de Moel (eds.), Towards Climate-Proof Flood-Risk Management (NWO Knowledge for Climate, Delft and The Hague, 2012)Google Scholar
  16. Kwaliteitsteam Ruimte voor de Rivier. 2012. Jaarverslag 2009/2010/2011. UtrechtGoogle Scholar
  17. M. Lindgren, H. Bandhold, Scenario Planning. The Link Between Future and Strategy (Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2009)Google Scholar
  18. I. McHarg, Design with Nature (Natural History Press, New York, 1969)Google Scholar
  19. B. McLouglin, Urban and Regional Planning. A systems approach (Faber & Faber, London, 1969)Google Scholar
  20. H. Meyer, Reinventing the Dutch Delta: complexity and conflicts. Built Environ. 35(4), 432–451 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. H. Meyer, S. Nijhuis, Delta urbanism: planning and design in urbanized deltas—comparing the Dutch delta with the Mississippi River delta. J. Urbanism 6(2), 160–191 (2013)Google Scholar
  22. H. Meyer, I. Bobbink, S. Nijhuis (eds.), Delta-Urbanism: The Netherlands (APA Planners Press, Chicago and Washington, 2010)Google Scholar
  23. H. Meyer, A. Nillesen, W. Zonneveld, Urban planning: from unsustainable to sustainable. The case Rijnmond. Eur. Plann. Stud. 20(1), 71–94 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. H. Meyer, S. Nijhuis, R. Broesi, Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt Delta, Netherlands, in Urbanized Deltas in Transition, ed. by H. Meyer, S. Nijhuis (Techne Press, Amsterdam, 2014), pp. 41–50Google Scholar
  25. H. Meyer, A. Bregt, E. Dammers, J. Edelenbos (eds.), New Perspectives on Urbanizing Deltas. A Complex Adaptive Systems Approach to Planning and Design (MUST Publishers, Amsterdam, 2015)Google Scholar
  26. Ministerie VRO (Volkshuisvesting en Ruimtelijke Ordening), Tweede Nota Ruimtelijke Ordening (Staatsuitgeverij, Den Haag, 1966)Google Scholar
  27. Ministerie VRO, Derde Nota Ruimtelijke Ordening (Staatsuitgeverij, Den Haag, 1974)Google Scholar
  28. Ministerie I&M (Infrastructuur en Milieu), Structuurvisie Infrastructuur en Ruimte (Ministerie I&M, Den Haag, 2012)Google Scholar
  29. S. Nijhuis, M. Pouderoijen, Mapping urbanized deltas, in Urbanized Deltas in Transition, ed. by H. Meyer, S. Nijhuis (Techne Press, Amsterdam, 2014), pp. 10–22Google Scholar
  30. Port of Rotterdam, Compass 2030—Port Vision 2012–2030 (Port of Rotterdam, Rotterdam, 2012)Google Scholar
  31. P.H. Roodbol-Mekkes, A.J.J. van der Valk, W.K. Korthals Altes, The Netherlands spatial planning doctrine in disarray in the 21st century. Environ. Plann. A 44(2), 377–395 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ministry VROM, Room for the River (The Hague, 2004)Google Scholar
  33. D.F. Sijmons, Het Casco-Concept. Een benaderingswijze voor de landschapsplanning (Ministerie LNV, Utrecht, 1991)Google Scholar
  34. D.F. Sijmons, H. Venema, Landschap (Architectura & Natura, Amsterdam, 1998)Google Scholar
  35. D.F. Sijmons, Landkaartmos en andere beschouwingen over landschap (Rotterdam: 010 uitgevers, 2002)Google Scholar
  36. D.F. Sijmons, Simple rules: emerging order? A designer’s curiosity about complexity theories, in Complexity Theories of Cities Have Come of Age. An overview with Implications to Urban Planning and Design, ed. by Y. Portugali, V.J. Meyer, E.H. Stolk, R.E. Tan (Springer, Berlin, 2012), pp. 281–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. G.P. Van de Ven, De nieuwe Waterweg en het Noordzeekanaal; een waagstuk, onderzoek in opdracht van de Deltacommissie (The Hague, 2008)Google Scholar
  38. F.R. Veeneklaas, L.M. van den Berg, Scenario building: Art, craft or just a fashionable whim?, in Scenario Studies for the Rural Environment, ed. by J.F. Schoute, et al. (Kluwer academic publishers, London etc., 1994), pp. 11–13Google Scholar
  39. I.S. Zonneveld, Land Ecology. An Introduction to Landscape Ecology as a base for Land Evaluation. Land Management and Conservation (SPB Academic Publishers, Amsterdam, 1995)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Delft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations