No 7 (2016)

Polycentricity, Performance and Planning

Despite strong efforts made by scholars to study the polycentric spatial organization of agglomeration in metropolitan areas, there is still no consensus about the conceptualization (i.e., identification and measurement) of polycentricity and its economic, social, and environmental (dis)advantages. Additionally, little is known in the policy realm about how polycentric development can be conceptualized in spatial plans and how the assumed benefits of polycentricity can be realized in planning practice. This is despite the fact that more than 75 percent of recent spatial plans developed for large metropolitan areas in OECD countries consider polycentric development to be the best strategy for managing urban development. It is therefore crucial to gain more insights into the multiple and reciprocal relationships among the polycentric spatial structure of metropolitan areas; their economic, social, and environmental performance; and how these metropolitan areas are planned through the elaboration of spatial plans. A deep understanding of these relationships will help to successfully address impending economic, social, and environmental challenges for people who currently live in metropolitan areas—this includes approximately 50 percent of the world’s population, considering only the non-metropolitan and metropolitan populations of OECD countries in 2014.

This issue of A+BE provides valuable insights by conducting research that links knowledge of polycentric constellations and their economic, social, and environmental effects to planning practice and policy in metropolitan areas. Specifically, this book develops policy/discourse analysis to examine how the makers of spatial plans have addressed polycentric development over time. Moreover, this book contributes to the literature by proposing conceptual and empirical frameworks for identifying/measuring polycentricity on the intra-metropolitan scale and for broader testing of the effects of polycentricity on metropolitan performance. Evidence-informed guidelines for spatial development strategies are then provided. These guidelines are built upon the empirical substantiation that centers of a polycentric metropolitan structure are able to foster better performance of a metropolitan area when they are more spatially integrated, bigger, and more proximate to their smaller neighboring cities.

Table of Contents

PhD thesis

Jaume Masip-Tresserra