Edited by David Emanuel Andersson, Åke E. Andersson and Charlotta Mellander
Chapter 14: The Creative Potential of Network Cities
David F. Batten Some creative regions in the world consist of a functionally cohesive web of not-toodistant settlements. Classic examples are Randstad Holland and the Kansai region of Japan (Figure 14.1). Other polycentric urban agglomerations are appearing in North America, such as New Mexico’s Technology Triangle (T2) clustered around Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Los Alamos. Have these urban agglomerations formed because the suburban boundaries of nearby cities and towns have simply spread outwards and almost bumped into each other? Do the more creative ones possess unique economic, cultural and infrastructural properties that provide them with key comparative advantages over their monocentric rivals? Does each settlement in these urban networks gain from dynamic synergies, such as reciprocal growth (through co-operative knowledge exchange) and the shared benefits of complementarity and creativity. Perhaps there are other explanations? In some earlier papers, I referred to these phenomena as ‘network cities’ because of the dynamic, networking process by which their polycentric structure evolved.1 To a large extent, this process was one of concentrated deconcentration. I called them network cities to avoid using the term ‘polycentric’. The problem with ‘polycentric’ is that it can refer to intra-urban clusters of population and economic activity – such as in London, Paris or Los Angeles, for example – or to interurban patterns – as in the Dutch Randstad or Japan’s Kansai region (for more a more detailed discussion, see Davidi, 2003; Parr, 2004). Most large cities are polycentric. Since my focus was only on interurban patterns of reciprocal co-operation and complementarity between...
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