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City or urban waterscape

One big city or an urban waterscape? Posad and Maxwan (which have since merged to become PosadMaxwan) with Noha have investigated both prospective development scenarios for the Drechtsteden region in the province of Zuid-Holland. The seven Drechtsteden municipalities together comprise the Netherlands’ fifth largest urban area. The allied towns – Dordrecht, Zwijndrecht, Papendrecht, Sliedrecht, Alblasserdam, Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht and Hardinxveld-Giessendam – form a continuous area at the Drierivierenpunt (“Three Rivers Point”), where the Oude Maas, the Noord and the Beneden-Merwede converge. If it is to keep growing, the region needs a clear profile to distinguish itself from other urban areas. A choice must therefore be made.

The Drechtsteden Economic Development Board deems the most logical and promising scenario to be that of a historically based, recognisable water-centred landscape. Posad has submitted ten observations to help the region with its eventual decision. One is that while a region may qualify as a city in terms of numbers, that doesn’t necessarily mean it feels like one. The other insights respectively concern quality of life, mobility, ties to the water and the surrounding area, business, education, and culture.

Whether the region chooses a unified city or a more varied waterscape as its guiding vision, it must invest in a good quality of life for its residents. Various spatial interventions will also attract new residents and enhance the character of the Drechtsteden region. Our study contains starting points in the form of seven recommendations, which can serve as a prelude for a regional environmental plan:

  1. Strengthen ties to the landscape.
  2. Develop the campus.
  3. Focus on waterways.
  4. Promote development near stations.
  5. Connect culture, landscape and water.
  6. Improve the centre(s).
  7. Encourage high-quality housing.

Read the full study (in Dutch) here.