In Search of Symbolic Markers: Transforming the Urbanized Landscape of the Rotterdam Rijnmond


The change in the form of cities over the last few decades into amorphous patterns classified as Zwischenstadt (in‐between city) has encouraged many urban regions to launch planning strategies that address the urbanized landscape in city‐regions. Symbolic markers are used to signify spatial transformation and mobilize various public and private stakeholders (including citizens). As the mindset of people is institutionalized in old perceptions of urban life, strategies employing symbolic markers may be thought of as attempts at institutional innovation. I will argue that the imagination of new regional spaces in the urban fringe is often voluntaristic. Instituting imaginative reconstructions of the Zwischenstadt through symbolic markers relies on a very precise notion of institutional meaning in practice. Using the Rotterdam Rijnmond area in the Netherlands and its attempt to develop new images of the regional urban landscape as an example, I will show that the transformative potential of symbolic markers depends on the way existing cultural and institutional practices are recombined.