URBAN SCIENCES IN THE NETHERLANDS.
2004 The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) launched ‘The Interdisciplinary Research Programme on Urbanization & Urban culture in The Netherlands. This Programme deals with cities, Urbanization, Urban development, Urbanism and Urban Culture in The Netherlands, past and present. For the aims, objectives all further details of the programme see: www.nwo.nl .This website about Urban Sciences will not only serve as a means of communication between the disciplines and researchers participating in the programme, but will also connect the programme to national and international networks in the field of urban sciences in the broadest sense of the term.
Urbanization & Urban Culture
aims at stimulating, reinforcing and co-ordinating research into new visions of the city, urban development and urban culture as they have taken shape in urban research both within the humanities, as well as in the domains such as the behavioural and social sciences in the Netherlands.
In the context of this programme, cities are regarded as focal points of economic, social, political and cultural activities that are typical of a sizeable population, high residential densities, a compact building form, and a distinctive attitude and lifestyle of the residents. Size, density and heterogeneity are not only valid criteria for the pre-industrial, early modern and industrial city; they also characterize the spatial-social structure of the current post-industrial city, even if the traditional notions of place and space seem to be losing credibility as a consequence of economic and cultural globalization processes.
In the programme, Urbanization is understood to be a group of processes driven by demographic, economic and socio-geographic impulses, by means of which the characteristic features of a society – those of size, density and heterogeneity – gradually become more overt. As a result of these processes, the urban and rural landscapes (and their mutual relationships) are continuously adapting to changes within the urbanization patterns of society. Accordingly, the current process of urbanization, driven by globalization and technological innovations – with the gradual blending of the city and the countryside as a characteristic feature – can be regarded as a historical process of social urbanization.
In the Urbanization & Urban culture programme Urban Development represents the processes of growth, shrinking or change, whether controlled by planned interventions (spatial planning) or simply taken place as ‘processes-of-becoming’, the results of unplanned and alternative urban practices (tactics of free zoning).
Urbanity and/or urban culture are concepts referring primarily to attitudes to towns and cities and, secondly, to (sub) cultural expressions and facilities associated with the city, and to all kinds of fascinating aspects and shadow sides of urban life as perceived and presented by writers, philosophers, filmmakers, visual artists, and academic researchers. in their work, urban artefacts (streets, high-rise buildings, asphalt, and concrete) and patterns of behaviour, manners and experiences are depicted and analysed against their significance for the design, use, and representation of the complicated societal units that cities actually are.
In the context of these definitions of cities, urbanization, and urban culture – which of course, have differing accents depending on the particular discipline – the Urbanization & Urban Culture programme devotes attention to research that does justice to the complexity of urban societies and concentrates on the interaction between the physical aspects of the urban fabric (Urbs), spatial use and socio-cultural behaviour (Civitas), and the artistic reception and representation (Topos).
The Urbanization & Urban Culture focuses on the changing patterns of both the physical appearance of, and the socio-economic reality in, cities. Those changes are the results of the confrontation between the mobility of people, goods, capital, and services – and their inherent physical, social and mental structures – and the hardness, and obduracy of the existing physical and intangible infrastructures of the city. The underlying idea is that urban societies – in contrast to the agrarian countryside – are perpetually in motion due to ever changing combinations of internal and external socio-economic facts, cultural representations, and physical-morphological qualities influencing one other in time and space. Cities are more than the sum of their topological backdrop and environment, buildings, or population make-up: an essential factor is the mixture of more or less universal patterns that are characteristic of each form of urbanity or urban lifestyle and of geographical, cultural, social and economic forces that distinguish one city from another. Thus formulated, countless structure-giving themes present themselves for study within this programme.