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Chapter 44: Randstad Holland: Probing Hierarchies and Interdependencies in a Polycentric World City Region
Bart Lambregts and Robert Kloosterman INTRODUCTION It was Sir Peter Hall who halfway through the 1960s, in his seminal study of seven world cities, observed that next to the traditional ‘highly centralised giant city’ there exists a ‘polycentric type of metropolis’ as well (Hall, 1966, pp. 9–10). This polycentric metropolis, Hall proclaimed, consists of ‘a number of smaller, specialised, closely-related centres’ and should be understood as ‘a perfectly natural form, which has evolved over a period of history quite as long as the single metropolitan centre’. Two such polycentric metropolises made it to Hall’s selection of seven world cities: the Randstad Holland in the Netherlands and Germany’s RheinRuhr region. Compared with their single-centred counterparts (e.g. London, Paris, New York), Hall assessed the polycentric metropolis to be ‘a more viable form for the mid-twentieth century’ (Hall, 1966, p. 157), as it supposedly offered better opportunities for coping with such problems as traffic congestion, competition for space, the availability of green spaces and other diseconomies of agglomeration. While Hall surely was not blind to the drawbacks associated with such metropolises (such as administrative fragmentation), he did consider regional planners in the Randstad Holland and RheinRuhr to be better off than their peers in London or Paris, for in addressing ‘world city problems’ the former, according to Hall, at least had a chance of achieving ‘really satisfactory solution[s]’ (Hall, 1966, p. 157). Today, more than 40 years later, young Peter Hall’s suppositions are basically still on the table. While the...
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