GaWC Research Bulletin 85

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Living on (Multipli)Cities of Times: The Case of the Randstad-Holland

C.H. Betancourth*



One of my main interests in this paper is to place my ongoing research on Time and Cities in the context of the Dutch Spatial planning debate1. The point of departure for this discussion are both, the concept of "networked cities and urban networks"-introduced by The Fifth-Nota2 as a National spatial planning and policy concept-, and the insistence of the political and socio-cultural desire (on the part of some sectors of the Dutch population) to achieve spatial quality through the accentuation of the contrast between city-country on the basis of a policy of borders that includes compact cities and open space models of urbanization. I detect both, a certain incompleteness regarding the concept of networked cities as well as a tension (or even better a paralizing paradox) between the networked city planning concept and the political and cultural desire to maintain the contrast between city and country through a policy of borders. There are several issues at work here that need to be deal with simultaneously: first, the success or otherwise, of such policy of borders; second, the incompleteness of the concept of networked cities as introduced by the Fifth Nota, and, third, the tension between this concept and the desire to accentuate the contrast between city and country through a policy of borders.

I will also argue that a certain historical understanding of the city seems to be informing this desire. Historically, the city has been imagined as a disciplinary space entrenched by "walls", originating in the act of inclusion/exclusion. Entrenchment establishes a clean-cut distinction between insiders and outsiders, between the subjects and the outlaws. The "outside" is distinct from the city, but it becomes so primarily through a sovereign act dividing the urban from the non-urban.

The question is whether this idea is still adequate to describe the contemporary city, which is no longer characterized by an inside/outside distinction but by a multiplicity of cross-border flows in every direction. Thus (the sub-title) "Living On Multiplicities of Times". I will therefore argue that today, (disciplinary) enclosure seems to be only one among at least four organizing principles of urbanism. The contemporary city is also organized according to the principles of "control", based on the regulation/coding of flows, and naked violence, "terror". But above all, the contemporary multipli-city of cross border flows is organized according to a complex process that may be described as "the spatialization of time"3. Concomitantly, what needs to be thought is the way in which discipline, control, terror and "the spatialization of time" co-exist in today's imaginary and real urban geography. I will elaborate on these issues by stressing the paradoxical relationship between inside/outside (inclusion/exclusion) in the context of a territory characterized by a multiplicity of cross-border flows in every direction. Zones start to appear where distinguishing between inside and outside becomes rather difficult. These are zones where the border itself gets complicated through the work of cross-border flows. Our emphasis will be on the time dimension and our first prototype of spatial indistinction will be what used to be known as the countryside.


As we will argue in our first case study below (Time, Agricultural Areas and Open space surrounding Global-city regions), a brief survey of the open space and the agricultural land surrounding global-city regions (e.g., the Randstad Holland and its green heart) suggests that even if the government has already for a long time been protecting the Green hart with a policy of borders, the green hart has become by now a complex space characterized by urban conditions of different degrees of intensities4. Thus not only in the city but also in the rural areas, space is no longer characterized by an inside/outside distinction but by a multiplicity of cross-border flows in every direction. The contemporary city is no longer founded on the divide between its "intramural" population and the outside; it no longer has anything to do with the classical oppositions of city/country nor centre/periphery. What was hitherto formless, the indistinct zones in-between centers and peripheries, now tends to extend to the whole landscape, including the city itself. Transgressing its limits and its inside/outside divide, the city is becoming an indistinct space. Such space shares with networks a fibrous, thread-like, wiry, stringy, ropy, capillary character that is not easily captured by the notions of levels, layers, territories, spheres, categories, structure, systems. These transformations are part of a dynamic process that involves at least the following three forces at work in these rural spaces: first, small municipalities in rural areas are powerful enough to transgress such borders. Second, the desire for a home with a garden on the part of wealthy sectors of urban areas, has played an important role in accelerating a process of super-urbanization of the rural space. And third, the farmer's economy is experimenting a process of transformations and thus facing serious economic pressures5. As our analysis suggest, a policy of borders wouldn't be enough to address these different but interrelated forces. The idea of "surplus landscapes" can be helpful in conceptualizing this "formless" city. Such city does not necessarily consist of an undifferentiated fluidity. It also involves a moment of re-differentiatiation. This differential moment is followed by the management of differences through "circuits of movement and mixture" that replace enclosures. Flows are channeled or blocked in prescribed ways. Flow seeks to increase speed (and save time) by prioritising the faster means of movement. In addition, what is also needed here is to develop strategies for rural development. I am trying to think these strategies from a network perspective that moves beyond notions of global commodity chains to temporal vertical (food systems) and horizontal (innovation and learning) networks6. Such concern with strategies of development should in turn be accompanied by alternative planning models and "development planning processes" that would allow us to both, understand the potentials of a given networked space as well as to develop such potentials with the participation of all the socio-natural and technical constituents7 of such networked-spaces8.


As suggested above, the Fifth Nota has introduced the notion of networked cities as its main planning concept. Such networked cities include the Randstad as well as the following urban zones: Groningen-Assen; Arnhem-Nijmegen; de Brabantse stedenrij; Enschede, Hengelo, Almelo; Maastricht en Heerlen. Yet, it is not very clear what does the networked cities concept really mean. Is it an indirect way to conceal and disguise future mega-cities9; or is it a way to talk again about new levels of governments10; or is it a way to justify investment-projects of national importance? Is the network society and economy apparently informing the notion of networked cities, a new social and spatial order11? What does the network concept mean in the context of rural areas? Could networks provide a new paradigm of rural development in agricultural areas surrounding Global City Regions such as the Randstad12?

But most important for our concerns here. The Fifth Nota takes these urban zones above and transforms them-as if by an act of magic-, into networks that are supposed to hang together and thus to be planned and organized as such. How do these networks hang together in time and space is a question that neither the Fifth Nota nor its critics (such as the PvdA Commission; De Sociaal-Economische Raad-SER-, De Vereniging DeltaMetropool) are willing to seriously formulate and ask. It is my contention that if this notion of networks is to be developed further we then need to ask the following questions:

  1. How do these networks and their socio-natural constituents come to hang together through time and space?
  2. How do these networks gain their strength and how do they achieve their scope?
  3. What does give shape and form to these networks?

I have tried to elaborate on these questions experimentally in the case-studies below on the tele-mobility of money through financial markets; as well as in the case of time and open space; and time and transportation.

But before we move into a brief description of each one of these case-studies let us notice briefly that The PvdA Nota13 seems to be concerned with some of the questions and issues I have raised above, particularly, the issue regarding the incompleteness in the concept of networked cities. Indeed, The PvdA Nota demands that the question "what are the urban and rural areas that belong inside a network so that they can be planned as a social whole", be answered precisely by The Fifth Nota. Yet it is not very clear how the PvdA Nota itself elaborates and answers this question. For the PvdA Nota the main constituents of a network seem to be just pairs of areas and/or urban regions defined on the bases of the compact city-open space contrast. Still, there is a tension between the notion of networked cities and the city-country contrast-model that the PvdA Nota leaves unformulated.


Thus regarding the tension between the notion of networks and the city-country dualistic model suffice to notice the following. Compact cities and open spaces (as defined on the basis of city-country contrast-models) are part of two models that the Dutch government has been using (since the 50's) to order the process of urbanization, namely, "concentrated-deconcentration14", and, "compact cities". The first policy was successful but brought with it its own problems15. Also in the 70's daily traffic jams and congestion started to become a serious problem in the Dutch landscape. A paradoxical consequence of such mobility has been immobility, and this paradox marks the contemporary city, in which sedentariness/inertia is more a post-mobility situation than one that precedes mobility. A permanent movement that pacifies and leads to inertia marks the city.

These series of problems resulted in a new model for the ordering of urbanization, namely, "the compact city". As result of the implementation of this new policy-model new areas were not built in growth centers but on the contrary closed to the big cities. As people were now located in close proximity to their place of work, it was then expected that the number of traffic jams could therefore be reduced. This new formula-that produced among other things the famous Vinex locations-, also generated its own problems. The Vinex locations have been strongly criticized for the homogeneity that they seem to have generated regarding the consumption of space in a context of individualism, high incomes and a shift from a quantitative to a qualitative consumption of space. Such critique views consumption as a matter not of basic items bought for definite needs, but of visual fascination and remarkable sights of things not found at home. But such critique of Vinex has been too quickly seduced (as has been those with enough surplus income) by the promise of a new form of individual sovereignty and consumer citizenship. A more interesting critique will be one able to consider how consumer spaces might be imagined as lived performances while at the same time avoiding offering an uncritical, post-modern celebration of consumer choice, semiotic playfulness and individual self-expression (See case below, time and consumption).

But most important for our concerns here: by now, no-one seems to believe that the compact city policy model would ever be able to limit and reduce the use of private cars. As we will argue in our study on time and transport (case-study 3 below), one of the main problems here is that planners and policy-makers still conceptualise transport and congestion as a problem of "more cars on the road"16. Thus overcoming the limitations of these urbanization models requires that we start to think mobility and the transport system differently17.

Meanwhile, the geography of the city has also changed. Offices, enterprises and shops have moved away from the old city centers to new centers outside these cities. People who travel to these centers for work, shopping and entertainment18 usually live in these very same centers outside the old city centers. Thus while planners and policy makers assumed (on the basis of statistical forecasting of traditional commuting patterns) that people living outside the city would still orient themselves towards the old city centers, what was then emerging as a trend (and that one could perceive by travelling around in the Randstad) was a criss-cross networked pattern of economic and cultural activities19. These emerging networked patterns go beyond the scale of the compact city model and are thus difficult to order through the mechanism of a compact city policy model.

It is in the context of the evolution and limitations of these urbanization models above, that the networked city concept has been introduced by the Fifth Nota. Yet, the concept has not even been developed and the PvdA-Nota already wants to get rid of it! I agree with the PvdA-Nota that there are problems with the concept of networked cities. But I disagree with the PvdA Nota when it seems to argue that while "the compact city model is too small, the networked city model is too big for planning". First, such critique as put forward by the PvdA Nota leaves out of consideration the fact that if these models of urbanization have tried among other things to address the problem of congestion and mobility with little success, we cannot jump into a new concept such as the networked cities without reviewing our views on mobility, traffic and congestion20. Second, that social actors (whether individuals, organizations or businesses) operate in (cross-border and trans-urban and trans-national) networks is part of a complex process of modernization wherein social arrangements increasingly stretch across space and we cannot just wish these complex process of modernization away as if by an act of magic21. Third, the PvdA Nota gives up the notion of networks on the basis of an argument that suggests that because the majority of people living in areas such as "Amstelveen, Diemen of Zaanstad" don't use facilities in Rotterdam and/or in The Hague22, we can therefore conclude that people don't live and operate in networked cities such as the Randstad. Yet, such argument-I will argue-, is not enough to invalidate the concept of networks as the PvdA Nota expects us to believe. Nor can we extrapolate from here-as the PvdA Nota does-, and then argue that if people don't live in networked cities they therefore live in urban regions conceived in terms of a contrast between city-country. That these people are not networked with Rotterdam and/or The Hague does not necessarily mean that they are therefore networked with Amsterdam. This could as well mean that they are networked with Paris or Europe via Schiphol! In fact, as we will argue in our case case-study on time and the tele-mobility of money, new cultural forms are emerging in which sociality is not based on proximity but mediated through incomplete objects on the screen.

In fact, if we were to follow the PvdA Nota and argue that the people of Zaanstad live in the Amsterdam concentrated urban region (or the Amsterdam "Netwerkstad" as the PvdA Nota would prefer to describe it), then, one should expect the inhabitants of Zaanstad to vote in favour of building a prison for the benefit of their concentrated urban region in their municipality. Yet, the fact that they vote against building a facility in their locality that would benefit the urban region where they are supposed to belong, may as well suggest that this very same people don't necessarily feel identified with this urban region!23. Thus it does not follow from the fact that one lives in closed proximity to a given area that one necessarily lives there, that is, that one necessarily feels identified with that area24.

Thus in spite of declarations to the contrary, neither the fifth Nota nor the PvdA Nota are really dealing with networked urbanization and or network cities. What the PvdA Nota calls "netwerk-stad" is indeed nothing other than the old compact city concept dressed in apparently new clothes! Thus compact cities and open spaces are still understood in the policy circuit as part of a vision and an image of the spatial organization that aims to achieve spatial quality by keeping the countryside area open through a concentration of urbanization in the urban regions. Yet the problem with such model is that it assumes that the activities of people are (and should be) limited to the confines of urban regions, measured in physical distance from the city centre. Networks on the contrary, are sets of relations that can straddle diverse spaces and times. Thus, what seems to characterize networks is that social arrangements increasingly stretch across space and social actors (whether individuals, organizations or businesses) operate in (cross-border and trans-urban and trans-national) networks. What distinguishes a networked social arrangement is that it operates with a substantially different sense of time and distance25.

It is then as if for the PvdA-Nota social arrangements don't stretch across space and social actors (whether individuals, organizations or businesses) still operate within the confines of urban regions rather than in cross-border, trans-urban and trans-national networks. Such assumptions seem to me rather problematic. In so doing, the PvdA Nota is leaving out of consideration processes of social transformation that are of fundamental relevance to the context of planning where planning concepts acquire their significance. In addition, such assumptions also leave out of consideration the substantially different sense of time and distance-that has been described often as "time-space compression"26- that seems to distinguish a networked social arrangement. As this process of time-space compression bites the spatialities of traditional societies (such as those defined by a contrast between city and country) are gradually replaced by a new world full of different ways of moving in space and time (such as technical artefacts, time-ordering devices and intermediary machines) that enable bodies to travel and communicate more swiftly. Places start to come closer together in time. As this process of speeding up continues and is boosted by new electronic communications media, it reaches new planes of instantaneous communication27. Instantaneous time, extends the present into the past and future, and thereby matches with space-time compression.

The spatial case-study below on Time and financial markets28, illustrates these issues in more detail. What is important to notice for our purpose here is that what is at stake in these processes of time-space distantiation is not only the ordering of space, but, the orchestration of mobilities through time-space ordering devices. Thus-and as suggested already above-, it seems to me that the question raised above by the PvdA Nota ("what are the urban and rural areas that belong inside a network so that so that they can be planned as a social whole?) needs to be supplemented with the following related questions: how does one define what belongs in a network? How do these networks and their socio-natural constituents come to hang together through time and space? How the networks gain their strength and how they achieve their scope? What gives shape and form to the network?

To conclude this brief discussion: It seems to me that if we want to further develop spatial planning concepts such as the notion of networked cities, we need to work on these tensions and questions above (See Borders, Incompleteness and Tensions). We propose to work on these issues by adding complexity to the spatial world planners want to order through a re-working of the dynamic and changing contexts of planning; and, by bringing the time dimension into these processes. In addition to the above tensions between networks and city-country models, the first set of challenges and the questions we need to deal with here regarding the time dimension are:

  1. How are we to think time?
  2. How are we to think space through time?
  3. How are we going to formulate problem areas from a time perspective? and
  4. How are we going to give time a role in addressing these so defined problem areas?
  5. In addition, we will also need to overcome the fundamental problem in the traditional concept of time, namely, that we usually confuse the experience of time and the measurement of time, which is a metrical reading on a straight line.

We propose to do this by focusing and exploring five problem areas relevant to planning: (1) time and open space; (2) time and the tele-mobility of money; (3) time and the rise in auto-mobility; (4) time and the management of the environment and (5) time and the transformation of consumption patterns. But, before we move into these issues and cases let us briefly notice that our general problem here would still be the problem of ordering space. Yet, as we start to add complexity to the analysis (and introduce the dynamic and changing contexts of planning, time, as well as issues such as mobility and infrastructures of speed), the space that needs to be ordered is not anymore the homogeneous space of measurement and transport (some kind of universal a priori, a grid like surface in which all that there is can be calibrated and quantified without complications or confusions). This kind of space (to be found in the space of geometry and cartographic geography as well as in the city-country contrast-model) vitrifies spaces and freezes duration. It ensures the repetition of the identical and the rule of the same. What needs to be ordered here-or even better, orchestrated in complex and heterogeneous ways -, are people's mobilities and socialities as they occur and are stretched out along long distances29. Technology, time and time-space ordering devices play a fundamental role in the orchestration of mobilities which include mobile spaces and objects that move. This orchestration of mobilities through time and technology will be illustrated with the case of the tele-mobility of money (Second case below) and the case of mobility, infrastructure, transport and time (Third case below). Let us move into a brief description of each one of these cases.


First Case Study: Time, Agricultural Areas and the Open Spaces Surrounding Global-city Regions

Species of Spaces30

We start to explore here the possibility of applying the network concept to development problems in rural areas. This of course opens a series of issues such as how to translate socio-economic and technological trends into spatial patterns and spatial dimensions. We start here to simulate the organization of the agricultural sectors, their country-sides, their open spaces and their activities in networks spread in space. We have also tried to develop some network typologies that go all the way from global commodity chains to vertical networks in the food system and horizontal networks in the field of innovation and learning. This brief study on the re-organization of the agricultural sector as networks allows us to explore both, development strategies for the rural sector31 as well as possible transformations in the use of space. Thus a more urban outlook in certain rural areas and an increase in the amount of land for other uses may be the result of re-organizing rural activities in a networked space32.

This networked approach to rural development strategies still leaves certain questions unresolved. How does one define what belongs in a network? How do these networks and their socio-natural constituents come to hang together through time and space? How the networks gain their strength and how they achieve their scope? What gives shape and form to the network? For instance, as result of such networked organization, there is no need to be close to markets. Proximity is thus eroded. This requires in turn the creation of an infrastructure for increasing speed and implementing real time decision-making and responses. As, digital technologies are then the means to achieve real time operations, new technologies would allow for the production of goods elsewhere ('outsourcing'), and the rapid movement of goods, persons, money and ideas ('electronic' and 'smart' highways', 'just-in-time' production). This infrastructure makes possible global information and communication flows33.

But, notice that these technologies of acceleration already imply a certain view of time and action. The aim of any action or strategy is to do whatever it takes to bring about a desired result. In this model, time is conceptualized as an obstacle to the attainment of future desires and goals. The idea would be to eliminate time entirely, to shrink to zero the gap or temporal distance between the present state and a desired future state. Ironically, this time-negating strategy has come to be known as operating in "real time." In effect, real-time is a sequence of punctuated temporal intensities fixated on the present-instant. Like clock-time, real-time is a homogenous code, symbolically represented in the shift from the analog clock-face to the digital watch. There is not an uncertain future (and thus no risk) at work in this model. Despite its commitment to making time disappear, the real-time model remains bound to time as causal sequence. Thus this networked approach to rural development strategies still leaves certain questions unresolved such as: what are the effects of real time upon the experience of time? How is sociality and global contemporaneity built within networks? (This will be explored in the second case, The telemobility of money and time). In addition such networked approach also leaves out of consideration the problem of mobility (this will be explored in case three below, time and transport) and of risk that come with the process of time-space distantiation. We try to explore these issues in open space and time below.

Open Space and Time

This second part of the study is a brief analisis of open landscape from a time perspective and in the context of the contemporary transformations of the agricultural sector and the changing farmer's condition. This study tries to bring the time dimension into the study of the landscape by a process of zooming in and out into and from the landscape. In so doing this study aims at developing the concept of networks.

Our starting point here are the a-temporal landscapes at work in the model that aims at accentuating the contrast between city-country. The first idea is to bring the time dimension into this a-temporal spaces. In so doing, this study (species of spaces) adds variety to the notion of open space. This variety is organized as a series of models and typologies for inspiration, strategy and symbol innovation. This set (generated on the basis of surveys and observations at different scales) includes some ideal typologies of images of landscape that go all the way from a-temporal landscapes to temporal interactivity landscapes. This analysis put emphasis on the visual, the invisible and the temporal aspects of the landscape and thus differentiates among the picturesque, the rural space, the environment and the landscape on the basis of a temporal analysis. It also includes models for the analysis of the symbolic aspects of the landscape. Time would appear here as memory space and thus as time-scapes.

First-conclusion: There is a variety of representations, ideas, and images that diverse cultures could have of a single-biophysical nature. What we have here is the case of only one world (e.g., landscape) and many representations (See, Cognitive map: Catalogues of images). A dualistic model such as the city-country polarity (and its compact city-open space/landscape pairs) would not allow us to consider this diversity.

Second-conclusion: the study of landscape (e.g., landscape as interactivity scapes) starts to suggest that the main assumptions in-forming the duality city-country-namely an antagonism between technology and organic nature-, may not necessarily hold. The "nature of nature" itself varies according to the types of foldings and socio-technical networks the matter of nature happens to occupy at a given point in time. The city-country model does not allow us to consider this variety either. As we will argue when we will be dealing with landscapes of risks, this distinction between technology and nature, nature and culture, city and country, can have unexpected consequences when this distinction is used as a symbol for economic advantage in a temporal context characterized by uncertainty and risk34.

By now the above surveys on the landscape35 have started to suggest the difficulty of maintaining the assumed antagonism between technology and organic nature (that informs dual models of city vs country). We propose to briefly focus on this assumed antagonism. This part of our survey and study on the open space case starts to question that antagonism and starts to build typologies of foldings of space-time and actors. As organic matter travels along these typologies of foldings its meaning varies. What this suggests is that not only there are multiple representations of one and the same nature (first conclusion above), but, that there are multiple natures of nature. Case-study 4 below (Time and the management of the environment), will look at the consequences of questioning this assumed assumption between the technical and the organic for models of environmental management (such as the de-coupling model), that also are used as principles that inform spatial planning (See case 4: Time and the environment). These typologies of foldings would meanwhile allow us to zoom in further and inquiry as to the kind of foldings that may inform and characterize a given area and locality (e.g., Boskoop).

As we zoom in further the study will start to construct a series of typologies on urban zones. Thus rather than the city-country contrast, what we have here is on the one hand, a situation in which the extensive city tends to absorb the small town and the country-side (Thus Boskoop becomes a suburb of Rotterdam), and on the other, the small town and the country-side are directly linked with global networks and flows (Thus Boskoop has the potential to become the symbolic center of a tree-producing global value chain36).

Next-and in order to bring time into the study of these urban zones-, the study will propose to construct and deliver a series of socio-spatial topologies of mobilities. Let us briefly mention the two typologies at the end and beginning of the scale: Refugees and tourists. Mobility is not a universal phenomenon. It is not, so to say, a human condition. Mobility differentiates the human condition rather than unifying it. Whereas mobility is a matter of choice for some, for others it is a fate. Such divisions point towards different social topologies of mobility. To illustrate this briefly: differential social topologies emerge say, as the consequence of the two distinct mobilities: that of the tourist (choice) and the exile (compulsory mobility)37.

What is important about these types of mobilities as well as the above urban zones is that they already suggest that the type of folding that characterizes the rural space is one we could describe as networks. As suggested above, in this networked rural space, social arrangements increasingly stretch across space and social actors (whether individuals, organizations or businesses) operate in (cross-border and trans-urban and trans-national) networks. As the process of speeding up that characterizes such networked organization continues and is boosted by new electronic communications media, it reaches new planes of instantaneous communication. Instantaneous time extends the present into the past and future and organizes a fourth dimensional space where the past present and future coexist simultaneously. I will return to this 4-dimensional space in our second case below where emphasis will be placed in the time dimension and the forms of technological cultures that start to emerge in these 4dimensional spaces (See, time and the tele-mobility of money). Case three (Transport And time) would look at the time-space ordering devices and complex large technological systems (made out of interfaces of humans, machines, and non-humans) that these emerging new cultural forms need in order to be able to function in these fourth dimensional spaces. Our final survey will construct and deliver networked spatial types in "rural spaces" that evolve from global commodity chains to vertical networks in the food systems and horizontal networks of innovation and learning. With this we will complete the first part of this case-study.

After this we will end up this first case on rural space with an attempt to bring time as uncertainty regarding the future into the analysis of open space. Here we need to introduce technology, its time and its rhythms. We also start to introduce the idea that it is intrinsic to the rhythm pertaining to technology to alternate violently from surprise to routine. It is on the basis of the sudden appearance of the motif of risk that we will start to define some new typologies from the point of view of time as uncertainty and its surprises. Globalization and its global-scapes are first understood as risk (landscapes of risk). The global here appears as a difficult problem to be solved. Scapes of cultural exception38 start to emerge as local-landscapes against the universality of globalization. A question is whether the local landscapes are the best possible answer to landscapes of global risks? Risk here does not mean that life has become more dangerous. Risk here indicates that everyone has again in their day to day life, the impression that things can go wrong. The sky and the sea (the same objects with which we started our survey), this very sky our ancestors feared was about to fall on their heads, could once again fall on our heads and those of our children (this will bring us into the notion of landscapes of precaution).

Bringing in technology, its rhythms and times suggests that we need to admit that there are not only a diversity of views and representations of one and the same nature (unity of nature and diversity of cultures) but that there are also different natures of nature. There is not a common mediator to whom both sides in a dispute can turn for arbitrage. Such a variety and diversity of views suggest that here a common world cannot be assumed as given but needs to be constituted. The case of Zaanstad above (see, "tensions". P. 9) suggests that the problem of open space is also the problem of composing a common world, a public interest. The common world assumed as given by models such as the city-country cannot be assumed as such. Thus rather than assuming a landscape of tolerance as given, a common world still needs to be composed. The common world is not behind but ahead of us. This common world is not the arbiter; it is what is at stake and becomes an object of compromise. What is at stake here is then the making of a common world whose outcome cannot be assumed as given. The diversity we have tried to describe above (See typologies), is the stuff with which the common world must be pieced together. All this variety of land-scapes helps to piece the common world of the future. The battle is about making a common world and the outcome is uncertain. Negotiation and compromise is what is needed here. The trilogy thematic landscape-cognitive map-cosmogram, are tools aiming in this direction.

These series of products and sub-products above (typologies of time and spaces and catalogues of images for inspiration and strategic and symbolic innovation), will allow us to translate our thematic landscape into cognitive maps and cosmograms for the design development of strategies (see strategies Booskoop) as well as for the mapping of collectivities of times (and landscapes of precaution). I have tried to illustrate this process in the last part of time and open space (Time as uncertainty) by looking at how organizations use certain images of the landscape as symbols to add economic value in conditions of uncertainty and risk39. How are these collectivities built is something we will further explore in our second case-study below: the mobility of money.

Second Case Study: Time and the Tele-mobility of Money

This case on the tele-mobility of money ask: how are socialities built today? These are important questions particularly now that we live in an economy (such as the Dutch economy) where the financial and ICT services are growing in significance with some of the banking and insurance companies becoming major global players. This study introduces and develops further some notions that were briefly introduced in the case-study above on open space and time. It focuses on the importance of starting to look at the objects of the cities of times as large and complex technological systems. It also emphasizes on the importance of the time-dimension for the development of the financial markets dealing with the tele-mobility of money.

Time is again all around us in this case. Time as simultaneity is fully at work in this case in terms of its effects at a distant within the dynamics of financial markets. The dimension of time appears again as time zones. The foreign exchange markets have a specific global form, which is not based on the penetration of countries or individual behavior but instead rests on the establishment of bridgehead centers of institutional trading in the financial hubs of three major time-zones, in New York, London, Tokyo (Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Sao Paulo, etc). Time also appears as an important dimension in the creation of economic value. As part of complex techno-systems and time-space ordering devices traders (market makers) make money for a given institutional bank speculating on the direction of a currency (that is, from exploiting price differences at different points in time) and from "arbitrage" (that is, from exploiting price differences between different markets and thus different points in space). An important question to be explored here is: how this different dimensions of time affect both, the dynamics of objects- in this case the market-, as well as of sociality and interaction?. How is sociality built here?

These processes in turn require that we move the market onto the screen40. The market-object appears here as an incomplete object, that is, as a market on the screen. Finally, time appears again in this case as time-synchronization for social integration in markets as incomplete objects on the screen (we will come back to time synchronization in our third case on transport and time). Temporal mechanisms, and the common orientation of participants to an incomplete object on the screen, may constitute a basis for a social form of "inter-subjectivity" and integration.

We will briefly discuss this by means of the notion of temporal synchronization and time coordination for the generation of global contemporaneity. Social relatedness here is not based on proximity (as assumed by for instance the city-country model) but takes the form of a shared a community of time located within a particular time zone. The idea here is that the reciprocal interlocking of time dimensions is the core phenomenon of inter-subjectivity in virtual spaces and cultures. In these technological spaces we don't go in a straight line, we move in a non-linear fashion and with non-linear tools and modes of thought.

This case is important for two reasons. It suggests that new cultural forms are emerging in which sociality is not based on proximity but mediated through incomplete objects on the screen. Second if we were to relate this case to the first one above, in say the context of time budgets and leisure time expenditure we could then argue that cultural forms are emerging for whom entertainment doesn't necessarily mean walking on the open space and/or looking at landscapes of a traditional type. Leisure and work are not separated in these cultures and socialization occurs through the mediation of incomplete objects on a screen.

Second, this case-study also introduces the idea that it is intrinsic to the rhythms pertaining to technology to alternate violently from surprise to routine. Technology also binds slow histories and millisecond rhythms to the hundreds of years of cyclical time. This 'time garland' has a real existence and opens onto a history that has no end. We will try to explore this time garland we already started to explore in case 1 and 2 above, further in our third case below.

Third Case Study: Mobility, Infrastructure, Transport, and Time

The rise in (auto) mobility that can be discerned all over the country and the Western word is our third focus of attention. Transportation is also an aspect of the everyday life of people where the orchestration of mobilities is done through space-time ordering devices and large technological systems. We are trying to describe transport as such technological system with an emphasis in the time dimension by looking at the spatio-temporal dimensions of transport systems; as well as to the folding of time and space as it occurs in transport systems, and, to the temporality of the private car and the layers of meanings at work in these different temporalities.

One of late modernity's most recognised and contested technological objects is the automobile. In its current technical formation, the automobile has become the prime means of transportation in most of the industrialised countries. It both signifies a distinct way of moving in space and time, and has given birth to a particular mobility paradigm. Thus, auto-mobilization allows its users to overcome the rigid time-space ordering device of train time tables which permits the complex coordination of trains, their passengers and freight across large tracts of time-space. New time-space ordering devices are established which continue the dis-embedding of social systems in which social relations become lifted out of local contexts of interaction and are restructured across indefinite spans of time-space.

Thus instead of merely altering the means by which one travels between A and B, auto-mobilisation introduces new spatio-temporalities and mobility-scapes. When we look at the system of transportation as such temporal large technological system, we begin to overcome the reductionistic understanding of auto-mobilisation as a synonym for `more cars on the road'. This will allow us to formulate differently the problem of congestion and traffic flow. This does not mean that we would embrace these complex technological networks blindly. In such artifacts and technologies we don't find the efficiency of matter. Technologies are full of engineers and chancellors and lawmakers, commingling their wills and their story lines with those of gravel, concrete, paint, standard calculations as well as risk. Thus in addition to the notion of technological styles of life we need to add here the notion of large technological systems, the social construction of technology, and technologies as heterogeneous assemblages of humans and artefacts.

We have also explored the time dimension in other two case studies. The fourth case (time and the environment) elaborates a review the de-coupling model (sustainable economy and renewable energy), which is one of the basic principles informing future spatial policy. This critique takes as its point of departure what we learned in our first case above on time and space, namely that the distinction between the organic and the technological upon which this model (and its interpretative authority) is founded, may not have a strong foundation. The last case is a case on time and consumption. Due to time and space limitations we won't discuss these two last cases.

Main deliverables

Let us conclude with the following list of deliverables.

The Study on Time and Open Space delivers a tool (thematic landscape-cognitive map-cosmograms-collectivities of times) for actors (e.g., farmers) to formulate and elaborate on questions concerning the future of the agricultural sector and their ways of living.

The Study on Time and the Tele-mobility of Money starts to demarcate new cultural forms that build sociality through their relation with incomplete objects on the screen. If we were to look at the problem of free time from a leisure perspective this research on new cultural forms would enrich issues concerning how people use their leisure today.

The Study on Transport and Time. This study delivers a different approach to transport infrastructure and start to model traffic from a non linear perspective.

Time and the Environment. This study problematizes the main assumptions of the decoupling model of environmental management from a time perspective.

Time and Consumption. This study provides a model for the study of the quality of objects of consumption within temporal frames.

Time and Cities. This study excavates some of the ways in which spatial simultaneity need not mean temporal homogeneity. Places in the urban fabric do not form either a predictable layering of past time nor are they easily flattened into a synchronic array-rather the reciprocal influence of time on space, and vice versa, creates complex temporality and spatiality41.



* Carlos H. Betancourth,

1.For more on this research see, C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working Paper 1: Living On Multiplicities of Times. VROM/RPD/Ontwerpatelier 2001. Some of this material may still be found at at

2. See, De Vijde Nota. Ruimte maken, Ruimte Delen. Fifth National Policy Document on Spatial Planning 2000/2020. Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment. National Spatial Planning Agency. June 2001. Nieuwsbrief over de Vifde Nota Ruimtelijke Ordening. VROM; September 2001. Some of this material may be found at

3. See, Betancourth, Carlos. H. 2002. "Ciudad, Tempo, Memoria". XII Cali en Desconcierto. Encuentro de Confraternidad. Asociación Colombiana de Medicina Interna; Sociedad Colombiana de Cardilogia; Asociación Medica Colombiana; Grupo Farmaceutico sanfi-synthelab. Cali, Hotel Intercontinental, 04-05-06/04/2002.

4. For more on this survey, see the graphic material-videos, photographs, drawings, etc- that was produced by Atelier 2001 regarding these transformations of the open space. Some of this material may still be found at

5. Under such conditions, farmers would rent their farms to truck companies; sell their farm-houses to urban dwellers looking for a green environment (e.g., the small town of Boskoop as a suburb of Rotterdam); or else, they would sell a piece of their land to developers who with the help of the local municipality would build a camping-park or a new site for offices. See, C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working Paper 2: Time, Agricultural Areas and the Open Spaces Surrounding Global-city Regions. VROM/RPD/Ontwerpatelier, 2001.

6. Notice that we are here already experimenting with the network concept for the case of rural areas. This concept of networks has commonly been used to analyse firms and cities.

7. The consolidation of industrial enterprises in the food sector (through chains) goes hand in hand with a tendency to replace and substitute temporal and natural processes with industrial processes as part of an effort to progressively squeeze temporal and biological constraints out of the production process. Moreover, an expansion and lengthening of food networks tend to result from this progressive industrialisation of food so that food products come to be transported over longer and longer distances. This lengthening of food chains increases their socio-technical complexity. The commodity chains display the increasing complexity of food chains as a whole variety of social, technical, economic and natural components are assembled together. Food networks or chains must be understood as social composites of the various (natural and social) actors that go into their making and there is no guarantee these will hold together in all circumstances, no matter how powerful the actors. Moreover, the temporal and natural components of the chains may circumvent processes of appropriation and substitution and must therefore be given much more consideration when accounting for the establishment of given power relationships and governance structures. The example of BSE is instructive in this respect. See, C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working-Paper 3: Time as Uncertainty, Space as Symbol with Economic Value. See also, C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working-Paper 4: The Different Time Dimensions at Work in Open Space. VROM/RPD/Ontwerpatelier 2001.

8. I have characterized this planning and development process as a trilogy I have described as a combination of thematic landscapes-cognitive maps-cosmograms-collectivities of times. For more on this, see, C. H. Betancourth, Working Paper 5: Questions to M. Castells. VROM/RPD/Ontwerpatelier 2001. See also, C. H. Betancourth, Working Paper 6: Species of Times: Temporal Foldings, VROM/RPD/Ontwerpatelier 2001.

9. Thus for instance, the concept of "deltametropool" is an attempt to look at the Randstad as a big networked urban realm. This concept has been introduced by a think-tank organized by the big cities of the Randstad.

10. This concept of networked cities implies that housing, infrastructure, recreation, soft infrastructure and cultural facilities such as higher education, would be planned at the scale of these networked cities. This will in turn require new levels of government in the space of the networked-region. Notice in passing that in my research in the rural areas (e.g., Boskoop), I elaborated a proposal for a rural development strategy based on horizontal networks of learning and innovation that point in the direction of a mega-science campus for the networked-Randstad. C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working-Paper 7: Boskoop I and II. VROM/RPD/Ontwerpatelier 2001.

11. For more on this, see C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working- Paper 5. op.cit.

12. C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working-Paper 2; Working-Paper 6. op.cit.

13. The 'PvdA Nota 'Open land, groene' is to be found at the following internet address: (geplaatst door: Kenniscentrum Ruimte & Milieu Oct 10, 2001.

14. Such "Gebundelde deconcentratie" and growth-center policy tried to orient the growth in population towards small provincial towns (such as Zoetermeer and Purmerend) located in the vicinity of larger cities (such as The Hague and Amsterdam).

15. The big cities started to complain about the decrease in population and financial resources that resulted from the implementation of these growth-center policies. Working facilities and enterprises didn't follow the population to the growth centers either.

16. This planner's way to formulate and alleviate the problem-lowering the number of vehicles by bringing homes and work places closer together -, is also the way traffic engineers have tried to alleviate the problem when they examine the doubling in congestion on urban highways and primary roads ("add road space" and "lower the number of vehicles"). Such solutions are informed by the belief in solving problems by going at them head on. One even wonders whether such results and solutions-rather than addressing the problem at hand, aim more to reinforce planners and policy-maker's reputation for practicality and level-headedness. The question is whether other solutions could be created? In order to explore this we would need to characterize the problem of congestion as something other than more cars on the road. For this, we will need to overcome the reductionistic understanding of automobilisation as "more cars on the road". For more on this, see, below, Problem Areas: Mobility, Time and Traffic Congestion.

17. C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working-Paper 1. Case-Study (5): Addressing Mobility Problems of the Cities of Time. Op.cit.

18. e.g., the Arena-area near the Bijlmer.

19. Already in 1993 I undertook a research were I started to argue that this stretching out of the city would present serious obstacles to the success of the Vinex-policy. See, C.H. Betancourth, 1993. The "tussenlandschaap". VROM/RPD.

20. C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working-Paper 1. Case-Study: (5).

21. For more on this, see C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working-paper 1, op.cit.

22. See for instance, Arnold Koper, "De vage contouren van Nederland". In, deVolkskrant, Zaterdag 24 November 2001.

23. Betancourth, 2001. Working Paper 4: The Different Time Dimensions at Work in Open Space. Op.cit. Here I argue that the people of Zaanstad don't live in a network and/or in a concentrated urban region but in an interactive-scape where the experience of time plays a fundamental role in the experience of space.

24. Notice in passing that For the RGD (the government institution dealing with buildings and architecture), the Ministry of Justice and the Major of Zaanstad, the "open space and nature" where the prison is to be located is considered to be a "pool of mud". They want to improve the quality of this environment by putting a prison in this "pool of mud". For them quality means more jobs and some sort of responsability to an assumed public interest (e.g., the PvdA Netwerkstad?). This is how they think the people of Zaanstad must live. For the inhabitants of Zaanstad what is a pool of mud for the RGD is for them an ecological spectacle. And it is within this ecological spectacle where they want to live. Thus there is at work here a problematics of interpretation and of meanings that needs to be considered when defining the constitutive elements of a given networked space.

25. For an attempt to explore these different senses of times and spaces, see, C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working Paper 4.op.cit.

26. Glossary. In, C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working Paper 1. op.cit.

27. For more on this process see C.H. Betancourth, Cities as technological sites. Forthcoming in, The Unesco Encyclopedia of Living Systems. Ed. Saskia Sassen, 2002.

28. See, Cities as technological sites, op.cit.

29. See, C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working-Paper 1: Describing Networks: The Senses of Time and Space in Networks.op.cit.

30. For more on this first case see, C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working Paper 2.op.cit.

31. See, C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working Paper 7: Boskoop I and II. Op.cit.

32. For more on this see , C. H. Betancourth, Working Paper 5. op.cit.

33. As result of industrial farming organized in networks, a smaller area of land would now be needed for direct agricultural production in the Netherlands. Agricultural land could be freed for other functions (e.g., the quantity of land available for urban functions increases). Open space here in the context of industrial farming organized as networks in global space is not museum-like agriculture but modern agricultural (animal) production (industrial (chemical?) enhanced agriculture). As agriculture becomes more industrial in its appearance, the result may be a more 'urban' outlook of the countryside in many areas. For decades, the Dutch have been spending their leisure time going for walks in the country-side, particularly in nature reserves. After a long decline, and with the help of the re-organization of the agricultural sector in networks spread in global space, one should expect the total area of nature reserves in the Netherlands to increase again. This raises important questions. How are these new reserves going to be conceived, constructed and managed? Are they to be conceived as traditional types of nature reserves, that is, would they refer to a romanticised past and present and alternative to hectic, noisy, "unhealthy" city life? But would this backward looking romantic antithesis suffice? What is the sort of quality and/or experience of natural reserves that people today demand? (For more on this, see, C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working-Paper 7. op.cit).

34. See, C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working Paper 4: Looking at Locality from a Risk Perspective. Op.cit

35. These surveys have the form of a travelling back and forward between different scales of the landscape. It starts with policy views on landscape; interviews with urban and rural communities concerning their images of landscape; observations of mega-elements of the landscape (such as the sky; the sea, the Dutch "Sabanna"), analysis of the agricultural sector and the different farms involved in different sectors of food production (e.g., dairy farms, milk production, pig farms, etc).

36. See C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working Paper 7:Boskoop I and II. op.cit.

37. For more on this, see, C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working-paper 2. Describing Networks: The Senses of Time and Space in Networks.

38. See BSE case, in, .H. Betancourth, 2001. Working-paper 2. op.cit.

39. See BSE-landscape in , C.H. Betancourth, 2001. Working Paper 2, op.cit.

40. Historically, putting markets on screen eliminated a major lack, that of knowing "where the market is" (what the prices are): before they were put on screens, prices differed between places and had to be found out through a painful process of phoning up banks and waiting for lines when going through operators for overseas calls. Contextual information was available only with considerable delays, through papers and the telex, or through the phone conversations. But the screen created new lacks of information in a faster, more liquid and global market.

41. See, C.H. Betancourth, 2002. "Ciudad, tempo, memoria". Presentado en el encuentro de Confraternidad, XII Cali en Desconcierto. Grupo Farmaceutico sanfi-synthelab, Cali, April 2002


Edited and posted on the web on 3rd June 2002