About the spatial chances for cities in the hinterland
On the outskirts of the Netherlands lies the city of Doetinchem: capital of the Achterhoek region, situated by the Oude IJssel river. A city with a fascinating amount of undefined and unused space. This design proposal outlines the spatial opportunities that await in densifying cities that lay in the hinterland.
The densification of the major Dutch cities is increasingly facing challenges. In high-density areas, unaffordable housing is being constructed in places with noise pollution, poor air quality, and strained infrastructure. We have been focusing on the densification of cities in low-lying areas of our river delta that are not resilient to the effects of climate change. This has made us vulnerable.
At the same time, cities like Doetinchem have not proportionally benefited from our general prosperity. In these cities, amenities are decreasing, and livability is under pressure. Residents feel unheard and are gradually disengaging while the need for housing rises.
For this reason, I plead in my design proposal for the densification of cities in the hinterland: cities in outskirt locations, where densification can lead to a societal boost. Densification can help revitalise these cities. In towns like Doetinchem, there is still space for nature development and housing on a human scale. A city where you can live healthy and sustainable. A city where there is still space for the development of businesses and where residents still have influence in their living environment.
In my design, I propose a resilient future for Doetinchem, with a focus on the development of the station district. Through compact urban planning and the stacking of functions, there's room for urban agriculture, nature development, water storage, housing, businesses, schools, and recreation. The design showcases the potential quality enhancement for the entire city and the surrounding region — transforming a decaying industrial zone into a vibrant green urban district. In the design, Doetinchem regains its connection to the Oude IJssel River and becomes well-integrated with the surrounding landscape.
The design proposal inspires a dialogue about the growth of our cities. Where is densification responsible and sustainable? How can spatial policies contribute? Additionally, the design challenges similar cities to contemplate their future. Dare to look ahead as a city. Dare to take a step forward in time and scale to realise higher ambitions in the long run. The opportunity lies ahead to become a frontrunner in developing sustainable and livable cities: to see these cities and regions not as a hinterland anymore, but as the Voorland.
Graduation date: 7 June 2023
Graduation committee: Herman Zonderland (mentor), Iris Wijn, Eric van der Kooij
Additional members for the exam: Riëtte Bosch, Daryl Mulvihill