Shift towards networks: integrating social and physical subsystems of the city through stratified models

Jeroen van Schaick


The urban system consists of subsystems that cannot be meaningfully separated; though rigid layered approaches in Dutch Urban design and planning treat the social and the physical subsystem as autonomous in urban designs and plans. This article develops a critique on these approaches through a comparison of socio-spatial models by Lefebvre (Social Space), Castells (Space of flows), Dupuy (Network City) and Heeling (Urban Ground Plan as mediator). As to stratified models in general it can be concluded that relations – as between levels (in stead of layers) of socio-spatial systems – should become a central issue in specific designs when this type of model is used. Urban designers and planners though have to acknowledge the importance of coexisting varied perspectives on the same subject to be able to deal with the complexity of urban issues and other models, not using layers at all, but relational approaches, might provide a better grip.

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