Urban Genesis as a guide to urban development, with an eye to water and soil issues

In Amersfoort this week, Delta Programme Commissioner Peter Glas received the first copy of a book entitled ‘De stadsgenese’ (Urban Genesis) from the Director of the Foundation for Applied Water Research STOWA and the Director of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands RCE. The meeting was attended by alderpersons from the model municipalities featuring in the book – Culemborg, Dordrecht, Middelburg, Nijmegen, and Oegstgeest – and by the Chair of the Rivierenland district water board.

Urban development traditionally ties in with local natural dynamics. However, since the end of the 19th century, the interconnection between cities and their natural surroundings has become less and less manifest in urban development. Existing landscapes tend to be adapted to every wish, resulting in uniformity and a lack of identity. Biodiversity declines, whilst the vulnerability to climate change increases.

An exploration and comprehensive visualisation of urban genesis, i.e., the “birth” or the “origin” of a city, re-directs the focus to the direct interconnection between urban development and soil and water issues.

Delta Programme Commissioner Peter Glas: In addition to fine examples in eight cities, ‘De Stadsgenese’ offers an excellent methodology that bears practical application in other municipalities. Taking the water and soil systems as its basis, it accommodates both “building with nature” and “building with culture”.


New basis

The book describes the geneses of eight cities. The expertise amassed by water management bodies, landscape architects, town planners, greenery management bodies, municipal archaeologists, heritage staff, authorities in charge of sewer systems, soil scientists, and environmental authorities has generated a better understanding of the soil, the subsoil, and the water system, thus providing a new basis for measures and solutions in terms of climate adaptation and individual urban development.

The book presents a method for describing an urban genesis concept. Furthermore, it serves as a guide to climate adaptation and urban development. The examples provide a source of inspiration for regional water authorities, municipalities, and other organisations wishing to elaborate a genesis of their own city, village, or environment. The publication (in Dutch) can be obtained via the Foundation for Applied Water Research STOWA. A digital version (also in Dutch) is available for download via stadsgenese.nl.