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Cosmopolis Lunch Seminar with Clemens de Olde (PhD Researcher, UA). Restraining sprawl: planning culture and the delineation of the Antwerp metropolitan area

8 June 2017 , Department of Geography, room F4.66, 12.00 -13.00

The division between urbanized and non-urbanized areas is a hot topic these days both in Flanders and The Netherlands. With a “betonstop” (building stop) the Flemish government tries to combat the continuing urban sprawl in the region yet again. In The Netherlands, after a decade and half of liberalising and decentralising the famous state-led spatial planning, now even the united real estate developers ask for greater government intervention in spatial policy.

The division between urban and non-urban is the carrier for the various case studies in my PhD research. The underlying question is how the changes in the spatial planning system of the past two decades have been accompanied by a transformation of the planning cultures in both countries. To approach this concept I combine the institutionalist perspective of the Policy Arrangement Approach with a Critical Discourse Analysis. In the seminar I will give a brief overview of the PhD project before going deeper into the case of the delineation of the Antwerp Metropolitan Area.

Conducted from April 2003 to July 2009, the delineation process of the Antwerp metropolitan area involved actors from 19 municipalities, other government levels and various non-governmental parties. Drawing on document analysis as well as interviews with primary stakeholders in the process, the case study focuses on the institutional embeddedness and particularly the dimension of meaning as visible in the discourse on the planning instrument and its implementation. The underlying question is whether (and how) the delineation process was able to transform an existing planning culture with a liberal attitude towards spatial development.


Clemens was educated as a sociologist (MSc, 2007) and philosopher (MA, 2011) at the University of Amsterdam. During his studies he worked for several Amsterdam-based architecture firms. This way, the process of becoming a sociologist went hand in hand with his developing interesting in the city, architecture and urban planning. After graduating he taught and supported classes and theses in urban and cultural sociology, and sociological theory at his alma mater (2009-2012).

In 2013 he started as a PhD Researcher at the Center for Inequality, Poverty, Social Exclusion and the City (OASeS) at the University of Antwerp. Next to working on his doctorate on the transformation of the planning cultures of Flanders and The Netherlands, he teaches urban sociology and supervises a Bachelor Thesis Seminar. Since Fall 2016 Clemens is also connected to Cosmopolis as  voluntary staff.


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