Welcome to my website!
I am an associate professor in urban studies/geography/urban planning at TU Delft. Here I present my research activities, next to more information about myself and how to reach me. You can also glance through my publications.
Feel free to have a look and please don't hesitate to contact me if you share the same research interests, or think my research is of added value to your organisation. I am happy to discuss research cooperation.
Martin Beckmann RSAI Annual award
Today I was informed that my paper ‘Borrowing size in networks of cities: City size, network connectivity and metropolitan functions in Europe’, co-authored by Martijn Burger and Marloes Hoogerbrugge, was considered the best paper published in the journal ‘Papers in Regional Science’ in 2016! As a result, we will receive the Martin Beckmann RSAI Annual Award, which will be presented to us at the annual conference of the European Regional Science Association in Groningen (early September).
The paper innovates in that it provides an entirely new perspective on the geographical dimension of agglomeration economies, showing that next to size and density, also network embeddedness of cities is crucial for agglomeration economies to develop (allowing them to ‘borrow size’).
The motivation given by the jury (Janice Madden, Carlos Azzoni and Erik Verhoef) is the following:
“Through an elegant scientific approach, the paper interprets the contrast that exists between the current dynamics in the Western European urban system and the bourgeoning literature stressing the importance of agglomeration for economic growth. The paper argues that rise of ‘city network economies’ leads to processes of borrowed size as well as the rise of agglomeration shadows in networks of cities, and finds that network connectivity positively enhances the presence of metropolitan functions, even if local size remains the most significant determinant for most types of functions. Based on the originality of the interest in the topic, and the important results achieved, the jury concluded that the paper was the best published one in 2016.”
The paper can be downloaded here.
Spatial Research and Planning
Mid-May the editorial board of the journal “Raumforschung und Raumordnung | Spatial Research and Planning” gathered in Berlin, where I was welcomed as one of the new international members of the editorial board. The journal is a forum for topics and debates relevant to the field of spatial sciences. The interdisciplinary journal addresses issues of spatial development and planning. It focuses on urban and regional planning, demographic change and urban transition, landscape development, environmental planning, sustainable development, adaptation to climate change, mobility, economic geography, regional governance, and planning theory.
My appointment, and that of the other new members (all from other countries than Germany) reflects the ambition of the journal to move from a primary focus on German-speaking countries to a broader international focus. Several decisions to foster this internationalisation were taken. If you have an interesting paper that fits the aims and scope of the journal, then please consider submitting to this very old geography and planning journal!
Rodrigo Cardoso and I organised four sessions at the AAG (Association of American Geographers) conference in Boston, MA last week (5-9 April) – a kind of ‘conference within a conference’-format. The theme was: ‘The process of Metropolisation: Reconfiguring the city at the regional scale’. Over 50 different conference participants visited the sessions.
20 papers were submitted, looking at metropolisation from different angles and with different methods, and they were presented by scholars from a wide variety of countries. We are currently exploring opportunities for a follow-up. Below is the call for contributions that was circulated – it gives a good insight in what the session was about.
Topic of the sessions:
“A reconfiguration of cities at larger territorial scales is underway. Formerly separate urban centres expand or coalesce into vast and interconnected urban regions, in a process of restructuring of economic activity, spatial forms and flows that some researchers have tried to capture under the concept of ‘metropolisation’. The processes underlying this transformation are tripartite: spatial processes of coalescence, expansion and connection contribute to gradually integrate (functionally, institutionally and culturally) cities into larger entities; the socio-spatial qualities and features once attributed to the ‘city’ are reconstructed by citizens, firms and institutions at the scale of that urban region; and policymakers and planners develop strategies towards that goal. Such processes of urban region formation have become important for policy, not only to respond to the spatial transformations of the territory, but also because the alleged benefits of size and agglomeration can arguably be achieved through integration with larger territorial scales. Deeply integrated and networked urban regions can try to organise agglomeration economies comparable to single, large conurbations of comparable size. Therefore, we can understand metropolisation not so much as cities dissolving into loose urban regions, but rather urban regions consolidating as extensive cities.
But urban regions are not just constructed by functional or economic processes. They involve long-term historical processes of spatial and social change, which leave behind territorial and socioeconomic fault-lines. The complexity of urban regions and their integration processes demand a re-examination of issues of governance, metropolitan identity-building, inter-city cooperation, shapes and actors of formal and informal networks, inequality and segregation, infrastructural and functional configurations, among many others.
As we acknowledge new dimensions of metropolitan integration, more unanswered questions emerge. The purpose of this session is to start sketching answers to some of them.”
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!