Unpacking polycentricity at the city-regional scale: Insights from Dusseldorf and Stockholm



The normative concept of polycentricity has become a promising tool to pursue spatial policy goals such as spatial equity and justice, sustainable and balanced development, and, more recently territorial cohesion, at various scales across Europe. As earlier research has shown, a number of cityregions use the concept for their planning and development work. In pursuit of polycentric development, they call for a robust terminology, solid analysis and methods. As a result, literature analysing polycentricity at the city- or mega-regional scale has grown significantly and it appears that some consensus has been achieved in regards to the main facets and dimensions. Recognizing that the potentials to comprehend city-regional dynamics by focussing on the extent to which polycentric urban patterns evolve has not yet been fully utilised, this paper intends to contribute to a more comprehensive view on polycentricity at the city-regional scale. In doing so, we study the (potentially) emerging urban patterns of two cases, the Dusseldorf and Stockholm city-regions, employing different theoretical starting points and analytical approaches. With this in mind, we aim to unpack the concept of polycentricity at the city-regional scale and to offer academics, as well as planning professionals and policy-makers, further insights into qualifying, analysing and understanding the complexity of the topic at hand. Likewise, we argue that sound strategies to promote and mobilise different facets of polycentric development should be carefully reflected and related to the theoretical, methodological and even normative starting point of any attempt to comprehending polycentricity.


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Peter Schmitt - Stockholm University

Kati Volgmann - ILS – Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development, Dortmund

Angelika Münter - ILS – Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development

Mitchell Reardon - Metropolitan Collective, Vancouver

How to Cite
Schmitt, P., Volgmann, K., Münter, A., & Reardon, M. (2015). Unpacking polycentricity at the city-regional scale: Insights from Dusseldorf and Stockholm. European Journal of Spatial Development, 13(4), 1–26.