De Alkmaarse binnenstad in beweging
: De relatie tussen veranderende visies op de stedelijke identiteit en de ontwikkeling van de Alkmaarse binnenstad tussen 1945 en 2018

Translated title of the thesis: The inner city of Alkmaar in motion: The relationship between changing visions of the urban identity of the city of Alkmaa and the development of its inner city between 1945 and 2018
  • M. Deinum

Student thesis: Master's Thesis

Abstract

This thesis examines the relationship between changing visions on urban identity and the appearance of a city. The concept of urban identity is defined as the conception of what the city, or what the role, the essence of the city is, that what characterises the city. Urban identity is not considered to be something that exists in reality, but as something that takes shape in the minds of people. This study particularly focuses on the past and physical image of the city (i.e. its buildings, squares and canals) as important factors in shaping its identity. The Dutch city of Alkmaar is taken as a case study. Its inner city has seen many changes after the end of the Second World War. Many buildings have been demolished, to be replaced by new ones. Using sources that reveal policies on spatial planning and heritage conservation, this thesis explores the purposes ascribed to the city of Alkmaar by the municipality, to what extent it attributes significance to the history of the city, and the policies that have been employed to change the cityscape. Furthermore, this research examines developments in how built heritage has been managed in the research period. Lastly, it looks into how the cityscape of Alkmaar has actually changed over the years. This study only looks at visions of the city administration on urban identity, as it is considered to be the most important factor in shaping the image of the city.
The main outcome of this thesis is that the changes in visions on the urban identity of Alkmaar, did have an influence on the cityscape. Starting from being a small market town, Alkmaar strove to be a modern city in the 1950s and 1960s. Although the large restructuring plans that were made in these years were not carried out, several buildings with a modern architecture were built that did not conform to the historic cityscape. In the two decades after the turn of the century, the vision on the urban identity of Alkmaar has been recalibrated to that of a centre city for the wider region surrounding Alkmaar, and that of a historic town. It can be observed that the cityscape has been adapted to this identity. Many modern buildings that had been built in the previous decades, have been demolished and replaced with buildings characterised by a more historic appearance. Also, the cityscape has an influence on the vision of the urban identity, but it has to be said that the appearance of a historical city did not prevent the city council to see Alkmaar as a modern city in the 1950s and 1960s.
A second outcome is that the vision on what the identity of a city is, is very prone to follow trends. In the 1950s and 1960s, the faith in progress and the desire to be a modern city took hold of many cities in the Netherlands. Alkmaar also wanted to turn its inner city into a modern city centre, providing space primarily to home offices and large companies. Decades later, with the history and heritage of cities gaining popularity, many cities, including Alkmaar, wish to see themselves as a historic town.
Date of Award12 Mar 2021
Original languageDutch
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Cultural Studies
SupervisorPieter de Bruijn (Supervisor) & Suzanna Hogervorst (Examinator)

Keywords

  • stedelijke identiteit
  • ontwikkeling van binnensteden
  • monumentenzorg

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