Development without plans and regulations: The spatial layout of the Zaanstreek region from the fifteenth to the twenty-first centuries

Reinout Rutte


Over the course of six hundred years, a cultural landscape has appeared in the Zaanstreek region that can genuinely be called entirely unique. At first sight, it gives a rather ‘messy’ impression, without a real centre and with residential, com-mercial and recreational areas intermixed. That is not something that we find to quite the same extent anywhere else in the Netherlands. How did this unusual landscape evolve as time progressed? What socioeconomic and administrative factors have contributed to its development? And what remains now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, of that typical Zaan cultural landscape? These questions and others can be answered by following the development of the spatial layout of the Zaanstreek over those six centuries step by step, comparing it with the structure imposed on other regions in the Netherlands.

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