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Research quality assessment

The final results of the 6-yearly research assessment have been published. This quality assessment of research in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment is part of an assessment system as specified by the Association of Universities in The Netherlands (VSNU), the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).
An external review committee was asked to assess the quality and relevance to society of the research conducted by the faculty as a whole and the nine research programmes as well as its strategic targets and the extent to which it is equipped to achieve them, following a standard evaluation protocol.

Top scores for research quality and societal relevance

My research is part of the broader ‘Urban and Regional Studies’  research programme. We are very happy to learn that our programme achieved top scores. Allow me to proudly (and somewhat shamelessly) quote from the assessment report:

The URS programme is judged to be excellent with respect to the quality of the research conducted, the quantity of output, and its relevance to society. It is judged to be very good with respect to its viability. The key staff members are international leaders in the field who have made highly significant contributions to a number of areas of research.”

The ambition with regard to research quality is very high.”

The key staff members are internationally renowned scholars, who collaborate with other leading scholars from around the world. The research is well-integrated and articulate. Much of it is frequently cited in international outlets, leading to high H-indices of the key staff members. The group’s international network and academic reputation is outstanding, and can be considered as world-leading.

The programme was very successful in attracting external research funds (research grants and contract research), with funding from ERC, EU FP7, ESPON, Interreg, Marie Curie, NWO, and others.

Although productivity is no longer a SEP criteria, considering all measures of productivity along with the productivity strategy, the URS programme can be judged as outstanding.

The research themes are very socially and policy relevant, with large impacts at the national and international level.

The programme’s viability is considered to be good because of its internationally leading role, its involvement in cutting-edge research ideas, its flexibility in adjusting as new ideas and expertise emerge, and its competent leadership. The URS group received a strong boost from the ERC Consolidator Grant and NWO/VIDI Grant.

In addition, in the recently published QS ranking of universities by subject (architecture) we scored 4th place!


You see, enough reason to celebrate this with a giant cake for the group!


On Friday the 10th of March 2017, I organised a workshop for employees of the municipalities that constitute the Metropoolregio Rotterdam – Den Haag. We discussed several issues, such as ‘what is a metropolis?’, ‘what is metropolisation?’ (metropoolvorming in Dutch), ‘what are the advantages and disadvantages of metropolisation?’, and ‘how can one foster a process of metropolisation?’, for which I drew parallels with processes of metropolisation in polycentric metropolitan areas all over the world.


We ended with a pubquiz that explored what these civil servants actually know about their Metropoolregio. The best team scores 6 out of 10, not bad and a lot of fun!

My paper with Rodrigo Cardoso on metropolitan identity (seen through the lens of naming metropolitan entities) has been published by Environment & Planning A. Here is the abstract and the main figure explaining different pathways of place naming leading to different names for emerging metropolitan regions. You can use this figure to predict what name is most likely to surface in your emerging metropolitan region.

The full paper is available here



The metropolitan name game: The pathways to place naming shaping metropolitan regions

The centrality of metropolitan regions in policy and research does not mean they are perceived by their population as having a meaningful identity. This affects their political legitimacy, economic development prospects and place qualities. However, the ongoing scalar expansion of our spatial attachments creates the potential for a metropolitan identity, which can contribute to a stronger metropolitan region vision. As a component of identity formation, place naming becomes relevant both to represent and construct this scale. This article evaluates the geographical, institutional and social factors that shape naming processes in metropolitan regions undergoing integration. We consider historical examples representing different modes of name formation: New York, Stoke-on-Trent, Budapest, Charleville-Mézières, Metroplex and Thunder Bay. We find that metropolitan toponyms emerge from a nexus of interdependent factors, some of which decisively push naming processes into specific paths, and that such processes reflect the socio-political and cultural contexts shaping metropolitan regions. This provides a framework of questions that metropolitan institutions can consider to envision the names they are more likely to develop.

TU Delft, Leiden University and the Erasmus University co-operate in a new postdoc programme, with opportunities for 90 new 2-year postdocs.
We would welcome applicants and are willing to support their application process. You have the chance to also spend part of your time at one of the other universities, which we can facilitate given our good connections with several research groups.

Don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss opportunities.
All information can be accessed here:

While already available ‘online first’ for some time, my paper ‘Stretching the concept of ‘borrowed size’ has now been officially published by Urban Studies!



‘Borrowed size’ is an emerging policy concept in several European countries, presenting theoretical potential to explain contemporary urban dynamics unaddressed through conventional urban growth theories that emphasise the role of agglomeration economies. In its original conceptualisation by Alonso, the concept describes and explains the situation that especially smaller cities that are located in a larger ‘megapolitan complex’ do perform better because they have access to agglomeration benefits of larger neighbouring cities. This paper scrutinises the concept of borrowed size, thereby focusing on its conceptualisation and reviewing its empirical justification thus far. Our empirical analyses show that the concept must be stretched in terms of scale and scope to enhance its policy value. Borrowed size occurs when a city possesses urban functions and/or performance levels normally associated with larger cities. This is enabled through interactions in networks of cities across multiple spatial scales. These networks serve as a substitute for the benefits of agglomeration. Theoretically, the borrowed size concept demands a recasting of the geographical foundations of agglomeration theory.



Agglomeration economies; Network externalities; Agglomeration spillovers; Urban system; Territorial development.


Below is a figure showing our interpretation of borrowed size and its different dimensions.

The full paper can be accessed here.

Hope you enjoy the paper!

Evert Meijers and Martijn Burger (co-author)