Project Duration
2012 - 2014
Wouter Vanstiphout, Marta Relats, Mike Emmerik, Jan van Ballegooijen, Dominique van 't Hof, Roderick van Klink, Jan Loerakker, Melodi Oz, Tim Peeters, Roberto Rocco, Ori Rubin, Toon Stallaart, Ekim Tan
The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment of the Netherlands, The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) and Municipality of Rottedam (DKC)

Design as Politics #6: Are We the World? – Randstad Holland, São Paulo, Istanbul & Rotterdam


In November 2014 we published our first book  ‘Are We the World? – Randstad Holland, São Paulo, Istanbul & Rotterdam’, based on research done in preparation to the chair’s contribution to the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam of 2012.

In this book we look at the export of Dutch design and planning which has been exported for decades across the globe. After a successful period in which the polycentric Randstad model was held in high esteem, followed by the fresh, modern approach of the Super- Dutch architects, the resources and expertise of Dutch institutions have been employed for projects in Asia and South America. Designers and planners from the Netherlands are being invited to solve complex questions with their combination of technical skills and especially the ‘Dutch approach’ of integral planning, wherein planning and process management are combined.

Simultaneously the role of public design and planning in the Netherlands seems to be diminishing. Are we exporting something that we ourselves no longer believe in? Or is the world accepting the Dutch Approach as the way forward? At the same time the countries to which we export our tradition of planning, are hotbeds of some of the most spectacular urban developments we know. 

In this book we raise the question if Dutch ingenuity, pragmatism and process management are still the ideals that the explosively expanding or shrinking cities of the 21st century are most in need of? Isn’t the city more of a political question – of accessibility, equality and democracy? What does the Dutch model offer global cities and what can the Netherlands itself learn? And maybe Brazil and Turkey have more to teach us then we have for them?

‘Are We The World’ is a thought provoking polemic about the values of Dutch planning now that it is being internationally marketed. Central to the book is a search for a shared set of urban values that might unite the different countries, in order to create common ground for the exchange of design expertise. It is authored by a combination of Dutch People working abroad, and people from abroad working in the Netherlands.

In January 2015 we organized an evening around this book in  Pakhuis de Zwijger as part of the Urban Books program. Speakers included Wouter Vanstiphout, Henk Ovink, Markus Appenzeller, Ekim Tan, Roberto Rocco and others. The Recording can be found here

‘Are We The World?’ is part six of the Design and Politics series, an initiative from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, which examines the relationship between planning, design and politics. This part has been put together by the chair of Design as Politics, under the supervision of Wouter Vanstiphout at TU Delft. The book compares the Randstad with São Paulo and Istanbul, and speculates about alternative visions for city planning and idealistic architectural intervention for the cities involved. ‘Are We The World?’ is not only a plea for a central role for city planning, and an active exchange of ideas, but primarily for new political involvement.