(Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands)

Keywords: Urban history, Urbanism, Urban planning, Architectural history, Urban history GIS

The Netherlands are an urbanized country. Over the last ten centuries a dense pattern of small, large, old and new towns emerged. How did this pattern develop and why do our towns look as they do?
From Friesland to Limburg, and from Groningen to Zeeland, dozens of towns were built during the Middle Ages, most of them along rivers and main waterways. When the Dutch Republic became a world power in the Dutch Golden Age, large extensions were realized in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Leiden. After a period of economic recession in the 18th century, the industrialisation caused some of these cities to prosper again from 1850 onwards. This not only led to a rapid growth of existing cities, but also to the emergence of new cities. Industrial centres like Tilburg and Hengelo and residential towns like Apeldoorn and Hilversum sprang up along the newly developed railways. Built under state control new cities emerged in the 20th century, like Almere, Emmen and Zoetermeer. The post-war welfare state meant that motorways, residential areas and industrial estates were rolled out at high speed over the country.
The study of urban history is fragmented in different disciplines and local in character. The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the Delft Faculty of Architecture have created an overview on the basis of scattered research. This atlas provides an overview of a millennium of urban development for the first time. By means of photographs, paintings and newly developed maps the growth and shrinkage of the Dutch cities is shown. Current topics are discussed, like re-use, redevelopment and the transformations of inner cities and urban fringes. This is the first national long-term overview of urbanization and urban practice in Europe. In our presentation, we will highlight the emergence and development of the urban pattern and the morphology of the Dutch cityscape in the period from the Middle Ages and the early modern period.