SMART-CITY: the way to solve your space problem…….

(No more congestion, no more parking problems)












INTRODUCTION: ‘CREATIVITY, GUTS AND REALISM’ WITH RESPECT TO MULTIPLE USE OF SPACE, BY Inge S.C. TER BEEK (, AGV-Traffic and Transport Consultancy, Nieuwegein / The Netherlands.

37th International ISOCARP Congress ‘Honey, I shrunk the space’, Utrecht, September 2001




As a project manager for multiple use of space Inge Ter Beek works with the AGV Traffic and Transport Consultancy Group in Nieuwegein. As a physical planner she has been under the spell of the subject of ‘Multiple Use of Space’ since several years, inspired by the Stimulation Programme for Intensive Use of Space operated by the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment from 1997 to 1 January 2001. In the past few years this programme has enabled her to study various aspects of ‘Multiple Use of Space’ in more detail.

In the presentation at the ISOCARP Congress ‘Honey, I shrunk the space’ she will adress the basic necessity of multiple use of space in the Netherlands. She will give examples of how intensive use of space is subsequently implemented in this country. Examples which also illustrate that, in her opinion, aspects such as guts, creativity and realism are preconditions for success of such complex projects. And finally she will sum up some of the lessons that can be learned as regards intensive use of space.


For a proper start first an outline of the physical characteristics of the Netherlands. Holland is about 310 kilometres long and 180 kilometres wide: basically a small country, with the beauty and strength of the sea water on two sides. The stereotype picture of Holland consists of windmills, tulips and cheese. It is more realistic, however, to view the Netherlands as the most urbanised part of Europe: an increasingly fragmented landscape due to transection by infrastructure and other buildings, crowded streets, many bicycles, and high-rise buildings. That is the Netherlands in reality. A country that is pretty busy and crowded.

The Netherlands is enclosed by the North Sea (both in the North and in the West) and dikes are constructed to protect the Dutch against this water. However, they have done more that just constructing dikes for safety-reasons. For instance, Holland has reclaimed large pieces of land from the water (by empoldering or drainage, for example) needed to create new land for agriculture. Simply to feed the many mouths which already lived in the Netherlands many years ago.

Today The Netherlands needs more and more space to facilitate other, non-agricultural developments. The Dutch population is still growing and thus requires houses, employment opportunities, recreational facilities and infrastructure. A variety of functions that all claim urban space. In addition, there is a trend towards more square metres per inhabitant. A century ago the average Dutchman needed only 5 m2 of living space per person. Today every person requires at least 40 m2. Moreover, in that same period of 100 years the number of people has increased from 5 million in 1900 to 16 million inhabitants today. So that is the difference between 5 square metres x 5 million inhabitants and 40 square metres x 16 million! In other words: 615 million square metres extra taken into use.

The main causes of this increased use of space per person are the changing individual housing preferences (house with a garden), emancipation processes, mass motorisation, but also the increased prosperity which makes it possible for people to actually realise these wishes. And do not forget the spin-off effects. The increased mobility (motorisation) not only requires the construction of infrastructure, but also of parking space, for instance. By now there are five parking places available for every car throughout the Netherlands!

Owing to this trend of a growing population and an increasing requirement for square metres per person, a city can accommodate fewer and fewer people. So what you see is, on the one hand, a progressing urbanisation and claims on space in rural areas – also there where this is not entirely desirable – and on the other, dilution of the socio-economic basis within the existing cities. This is not just a question of erosion of the economic foundation. Urban dilution due to out-migration of the population also has its negative effects on the social stability and the cultural dynamics of a city. The overall effect is that the quality of the living environment is rapidly going downhill.

This is aggravated by the findings of the Dutch Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, Mr Jan Pronk, who recently announced that a survey of future claims for space, carried out in the framework of the latest national policy plan (the Fifth Policy Document), had yielded a result which is downright alarming: in the coming 30 years the Netherlands will require almost 10% extra space to fully satisfy the demand for space!

The Dutch history of spatial planning shows that since the 1950s all economic, social and technological developments have been followed actively by spatial development concepts. The question was always how the available space could be laid out optimally to facilitate these developments. About once every 10 years the government writes a national policy document on spatial development, addressing these opportunities and developments. From the ‘Zeroth Policy Document’ in 1958 up to the ‘Fourth Policy Document Extra plus Update’ in the mid-nineties.

In the latest policy document on spatial planning (the Fifth), however, space itself is being addressed. Or rather: ‘spatial quality’. The Fifth Policy Document makes a plea for the future. With as leading actor: the spatial quality of our living environment. On the basis of a number of principles the Dutch government is going to try and lead developments in the right direction. The three strategies mentioned by Mr. Pronk for this are: intensification, combination and transformation. Intensification of buildings within the urbanised area proper, combination of functions where possible (agriculture and nature with recreation) and transformation of (usually urban) parts which have lost their value into areas with new functions. Examples are old industrial or port areas which have slowly been wrapped up by urbanisation. Multiple Use of Space is an umbrella concept which is associated with this.



The concept of multiple use of space can best be illustrated by a few examples. On the basis of experience with the concept of multiple and intensive use of space three aspects can be added which -in the author’s view- are preconditions for the success of multiple use of space: ‘Creativity’, ‘Guts’ and ‘Realism’. In this context an integrated area and process approach to projects in which multiple use of space plays a role would seem to be of decisive importance.

Different ways in which intensive use of space manifests itself.

Intensive or multiple use of space can be achieved by:

  1. Densification of urban areas (for instance, by high-rise building or infill development within the urban area).
  2. Building underground, or bridging of existing infrastructure.
  3. Mixing of functions (supermarket and public library in 1 building, making use of 1 underground car park). Or extending the utilisation time of a building or area by combining functions which are not conflicting in terms of time schedule.


An urban area can be intensified by, for instance, densification of the urban tissue. High-rise building is one answer to the question how a city can be built more compact. The skyline of Rotterdam is a fine example of high-rise building in the Netherlands.

Architecture and keeping the human measure in mind play an important role in this respect, however. Avoiding that people feel overwhelmed by the built environment is of great importance for their positive perception of that environment. Allowing for ample open spaces in urban areas, such as parks and squares, is an effective means to achieve this.

A good example of densification is the Resident. This is a complex of high-rise buildings being constructed on a small plot on a strategic location in the heart of The Hague. A postage stamp of 5 hectares between Central Station and the city centre has been lying waste for several years now. Recently some fine architecture has been implemented here from well-known architects such as:: Michael Graves, Sjoerd Soeters, Rob Krier, Cesar Pelli, Adolfo Natalini and a few others. Creativity reigns supreme here. At the same time a spatial programme has been implemented which commands admiration: 100,000 m2 of office space, 300 apartments, 4000 m2 of shops and other commercial facilities, 1400 parking places (partly underground and partly integrated into an office building at ‘n +2 and +3 level). And a tram which literally runs right through a building. And finally also public spaces and green areas.

Apart from the creativity, the wonderful architecture and the remarkable solutions, this project is also notable because of its attention to the project surroundings. An area-orientated approach. The spatial integration of this new piece of city into the rest of the urban palette has been approached very carefully by Krier as supervisor. He designed a master plan with a layered structure. Large-scale high-rise on one side, facing office towers and the Central Station , and medium-high-rise on the opposite side of the postage stamp, where the older and lower historical part of the city centre starts.

Building underground

Another method of multiple use of space is by going underground. Stacking of functions, not upward, but downward. Making use of the space below ground level.

A successful example of underground building – albeit from another country – is this 6-storey underground car park in Boston, Post Office Square, with 1400 parking places. This example has a nice history, especially in terms of realism. The car park used to be above-ground and was gradually deteriorating amidst expensive office property. Obviously this had an undesirable effect on the prices of all that expensive property. The interested parties sat together to find a solution. And so the Friends of Post Office Square Association was born. A number of project developers and owners decided to buy the run-down car park, demolish it, and rebuild it underground. In place of it a rustic park was created. This made lunch breaks much more pleasant. And sure enough the prices of property started to rise again. The special feature of this development is the financing of the underground car park. The members of the newly created association all have made a deposit to raise the necessary start-up capital. Subsequently, shares were issued and parking places were sold. And this money was used to finance the car park. In fact this is an underground project characterised by sound realism.

Another example of building below ground level which is well-known in the Netherlands is the Koopgoot in Rotterdam. The Koopgoot is in principle a sunk shopping mall in Rotterdam, which passes underneath a busy traffic junction and connects several other shopping areas.

An extra quality of the construction below ground level is the intimacy that is created in such an open tunnel trough. To experience this as a positive thing has to do with the excellent quality of the buildings with respect to the surroundings: their design, use of materials, etc. Note that the perception aspect plays a more than average role in building below ground level! Light, air and view as design elements are even more important than with ordinary above-ground buildings.

The ‘Koopgoot’ project is not only beautifully designed but also a successful example of revitalisation of the Rotterdam shopping area. In principle one can speak of intensive use of space embedded in an integrated area approach.


From the ‘Koopgoot’ (a sunk shopping mall) to bridging as a means of densification is not such a big step. In principle, bridging is just another way of leaving the original ground level.

Bridging involves building a structure – which may be fully closed or semi-open – over infrastructure and railway tracks. Building over existing infrastructure seems to be the method of gaining space in places where there is a great need for square metres and a large plot of land is not immediately available. At the same time, bridging often takes away part of the existing noise and odour nuisance, especially if it is done over a relatively long part of a motorway. The buildings on top of the bridging structure are usually not very heavy. Most likely a park or public area finds a place here. The bridging structure then also serves to link up, for instance, two separated parts of a city.

Entire parks or ponds can be built over infrastructure.

Some examples of bridging structures implemented in the Netherlands are the bridge buildings over the Utrechtsebaan in The Hague. It started in ’95 with the gate building of the Nationale Nederlanden insurance company, followed in ’96 by the Malietoren occupied by the employers’ organisation VNO/NCW, and in the subsequent years two bridge buildings and two semi-open roofings were constructed over the Utrechtsebaan, which together were baptised "Grotiusplaats".

However, the choice of what is to be built over the infrastructure (a park or, for instance, offices) largely determines the cost. A park requires only a light construction (‘slab’) which is of course much cheaper than an urban floor (heavy construction) which may also have to accommodate buildings.

An example of a heavy bridging structure is the Zuid-As in Amsterdam. This is a gigantic bridging and urban renewal process for which the green light was given a few years ago and which is now progressing rapidly. The A10 motorway, along with a few main railway tracks, will be reconstructed underground, so that not only the urban area is united, but also a new spatial programme can be implemented. This will provide a new economic stimulus for the area and Amsterdam as a whole.

In the area over the A10 a total of 2.25 million square metres of floor area will be constructed. This includes about 980,000 square metres of housing, a good one million square metres of offices, and over 260,000 square metres of amenities. Half of this will be constructed on top of the bridging structure, the other half beside it.

Apart from houses and offices, also the railway station is planned on top of the bridging structure. This railway station is more a superknot of modes of transport – "the motor driving the development of the Zuidas area", some people call it. This is a place where trains, buses, cars, taxis, bicycles and pedestrians meet. Consequently, around the station the building density is higher than anywhere else. It is envisaged that the quality of life in this area will be safeguarded by explicitly taking account of the human measure, daylight, sunlight and view. For instance, buildings are deliberately constructed in functional layers. The bottom 8 metres will mainly have amenities freely accessible to the public, while dwellings and offices come on top of that. Here, too, a differentiation is made between the different blocks of buildings so as to avoid creating an continuous high wall. This layered approach of public amenities in the plinth and housing and offices in the higher storeys is hoped to increase social safety in the streets.

Furthermore, much attention is also being paid to variation within the public spaces: busy streets are combined with quiet spots, parks and squares.

Mixing of functions

The third type of intensive use of space is mixing of functions and prolonging the duration of utilisation of an area or building.

The railway zone in Delft is in The Netherelands well-known for its underground building aspects. But it also incorporates mixing of functions. It is a complex project. It involves doubling the railway track and constructing it underground, at the same time seizing the opportunity to add extra functions to the area. For instance, property, park structures, but also parking facilities. This project is an illustration of the integrated process approach. The private party that would provide the know-how was involved in the planning process at an early stage, resulting in a more balanced plan. This demonstrates a sound portion of realism. And instead of one large PPP cluster, a number of smaller, usually bilateral, PPP constructions has been preferred.

- LESSONS: problems and success factors-

To conclude this paper: the problems and success factors of multiple use of space in general.

  1. Multiple use of space always involves multiple functions. Every function has its own scope and rhythm of motion. This does not only apply to the lines that are attached to it but also to the associated decision-making processes. (For instance: including it in the Multi-year Programme for Infrastructure and Transport takes on average 7 years, building property over infrastructure takes 3 to 5 years.) This should be taken into account during the process.
  2. Arrangements as regards risks and management should be made at an early stage. Make a list of all risks and management issues, communicate it to all parties involved and discuss who will be responsible for what and who will pay what. The integrated process approach.
  3. Make no mistake about the difference between stakeholders and people who are just interested. This latter group should definitely be taken into account (if only because of the power they may have to obstruct the procedures). This requires the set-up of an effective and timely communication. But at the decision-making table these interested people are often just dead weight.
  4. Sometimes private parties are quite willing to take over all the day-to-day worries from the government. Admittedly, private participants in a project can absolutely have an added value, but they will always be commercial partners operating in the market. The overall direction and responsibility for the spatial quality and the socio-economic balance in an area must always remain in the hands of the government.
  5. An important success factor is the staffing of a project. One enthusiastic project manager, with a tenacious nature, in combination with one enthusiastic administrator who has the necessary mandate and guts, can sometimes mean more to a project than all the money in the world can buy.
  6. Multiple use of space must have an added value to its surroundings. After all, it is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
  7. The awareness that intensification entails different and sometimes additional requirements in terms of perception, safety, and technical know-how, should be well-established in the minds of all parties involved.
  8. At the same time it always remains interesting to explore how rules that were initially designed mainly for traditional spatial planning can be approached with the same creativity as the concept of innovative use of space when they are applied to multiple use of space. (Noise nuisance from an underground road?)
  9. In view of the complexity of a project, the high cost this entails, the participation of private parties which is often sought, and the additional spatial programme which subsequently has to be added in return, it is essential to realise that this type of projects often call for an area-orientated approach.
  10. Intensification of an urban area has many benefits for its spatial quality and the daily living environment. It should be remembered, however, that addition of a spatial programme or intensified utilisation should go hand in hand with sound and creative solutions for accessibility. This accounts for the necessity of realism, in addition to creativity and guts.