Currently, planners and policymakers are employing GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to understand and visualize physical features in geographical areas. These maps are used as the base for future urban developments. Yet there are critiques of using GIS this way since it uses a simple conceptualization of space where space is either continuous or discrete. Space is however multifaceted and therefore there is a need for more complex models focusing on both vertical and horizontal understanding of planning. This explanatory research analyzes how the understanding of landscapes in spatial planning models influences spatial planning. It does this by examining how complex models, such as the layer approach, are being implemented in urban planning. This research combines landscape theory and the usage and view of the layer approach to contribute to a deeper understanding of how spatial models affect the planner's view of landscapes for urban development. The study consists of ten in-depth interviews, with experts selected to be knowledgeable of the layer approach, combined with four examples, retrieved from desk research, of how the approach has been applied in spatial planning in the Netherlands. The results show that the layer approach is used as a concept of space to discuss and comprehend the landscape. The usage and meaning of layer approach are, as well as its influence on spatial planning in the Netherlands, consequently, determined by its user. The layer approach, through its conceptualization of the landscape, highlights the importance of discussing and considering the natural aspects of the landscape in urban development. However, spatial planning and urban development are driven by social and economic factors and since the layer approach does not address these dimensions the concept is mostly considered an academic concept. Nevertheless, the layer approach has the potential to become influential as a communication tool concerning safety and climate adaptation for cities through its multidisciplinary view of the landscape.

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Dr. Paul Rabé, Prof.dr. Jurian Edelenbos
Public Administration
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Johanna Tevérus. (2022, August 6). The Layer Approach Simplifying Complexity. Public Administration. Retrieved from