The Contagious Utilization of Space in Holland (repost of Essay 2)

“10 Reasons Why Spring Is the Best Time to Visit Amsterdam.” I Amsterdam,

Through the eyes of Winner and Betsky the way in which in Holland has considered the space available to them with a strategic eye was contagious and has continued to be shared in realms other than the architecture of its cities. The Dutch have put their faith in their national spacial planning for years. The Dutch use of space is a national past time and has manifested their attention to space now. This idea that space is valuable and needs to be used wisely is a national radiology throughout the Dutch’s culture and their landscape. 

Dutch is a “nation of spatial neurotics” (47) as Winner states. Betsky visualizes how the Dutch have thought of space and its versatility less explicitly than Winner. Betsky articles surrounds the land of Holland and how it has developed, evolved, and adapted to the surrounding water over centuries. The contagion in Betsky is the way in which the famers had to fight the water to keep the sea at bay and make valuable crops just like Holland had to keep in mind while building their cities that are surrounded by water. In both farming and the building the layout of Holland, space was a main concern and how to create and utilize it was an emphasis. Both Winner and Betsky were able to see how Holland’s use of space was interdisciplinary through architecturally mapping out its cities and with soccer and farming, respectively. Betsky visualizes the use of space laterally while biking to and from work. Whereas, Winner visualizes the use of space from a vertical vantage point, a bird’s eye point of view, similar to how he sees the utilization of space in Dutch soccer from a seat in the stands of a stadium. Either way, it is obvious with a critical eye through Winner and Betsky articles and keeping the layout of the cities of Holland in mind that space stretches into many realms of Holland.

Winner conceptualizes on the use of space in Holland through its architecture and the Dutch soccer team’s utilization of space as its mastermind strategy. Winner argues that the Dutch soccer team of the 1990s visualized space as their “unique defining element” (44) in a similar way to which the city of Amsterdam utilized the space that they had to create a city that has beautifully enhanced modern architecture. As Winner claims that the Dutch soccer team sought to find space and take space whenever available. The Dutch soccer team had a system where they attacked the halfway line instead of the protecting their goal which resulted in less running and resulted in, typically, two goals in the first five minutes (Winner 45). Winner also claims just like the Dutch soccer team is concerned about space, so has Holland since WWII. Winner highlights this connection when he states, “Anticipating by nearly 400 years the Total Football concept of squeezing space in defence, the Dutch (literally) made their land as small as possible by flooding the farm lands between their walled cities when the Spaniards attacked”(50). Winner sees here that their military thought of the space and the water while at war to help pursue their military. He claims that the Dutch have put their faith in a series of National plans known as the National Spatial Planing Acts (in English) (Winner 49). These are blueprints concerning the use of space that are to be followed by “every local and municipal authority in the Netherlands” (49). The are strict about their space and value it. The Dutch have developed  “the Netherlands as a country of compact cities surrounded by spacious green countryside” (Winner 50). The strategic way in which space was utilized to build Holland architecturally developed into persona for the Dutch people and also is seen as Winner explains in their military strategies and their football team.

Betsky similar to Winner sees how space has been utilized throughout the historical architecture of Holland and also been kept in mind of farmers reading their land. Betsky, however, does not highlight this connection as explicitly as Winner. Betsky states that “fighting the sea demanded an organization that led to the founding of heemraadschappen, groups of farmers united to regulate the process of keeping the water at bay” (12). These groups of framers provided a political and social alternative to the “hierarchical fiefdoms that governed most of Europe at the time” (Betsky 12). Every inch of land was used productively. There were few estates and little unused land. The great use of the space in the farmlands produced great crops for trade and that spread to great use of space architecturally throughout the cities. This helped the country prosper. Unfortunately, throughout its years Holland has struggled with their beautiful surrounding water, but it still a very successful do to its strong basis on preserving their land and utilizing the space available (Betsky 14). Winner highlights also how Holland utilization of space has kept country strong and successful. This is especially seen when he brings in Dr. Michiel Schwartz’s article that explains the Netherlands to be a “country by design” that prospers by creating cultural and personal “freedom by design” states that “(t)his is the heart of Dutch notion of maakbaarheid, the ability to shape, for and control every aspect of the social and physical environment . . . the belief that a country can be planned and made from its physical environment to its social and cultural life” (qtd. Winner 51).  Betsky and Winner noticed how space was a key element in many aspects of Dutch design in their country. Betsky saw how their utilization of space in the cities of Holland architecturally and in the organization of their farmlands. Both Winner and Betsky were able to see how space has made them strong and successful as a country.

“The Oranje – the Dutch National Teams.” KNVB,

Betsky uses the route that he takes to his office from his home as he sees it as a platform of how he explains the Netherlands to be laid out. As a result his vantage point of the utilization of space in Holland is a lateral point of view. Whereas, Winner’s point of view is from a vertical vantage point from the seats of the Dutch soccer team’s stadium provides us with a birds eye view of the players’ use of space and the cities’ use of space. Betsky calls where he resides in Rotterdam a “grid, the houses are often abstractions and elongations of the familiar rural building type: brick wall, tile roof” (18). He describes the Netherlands use of space as “a country marked by linear development along dikes, roads, and now highways, connecting points where first water and now traffic is controlled” (16). He uses shapes and parallel lines to describe Rotterdam: A line of train tracks and another highway run parallel to it, just beyond the shopping mall and the row of office buildings that form the modern equivalent of a dike, screening all movement in the surrounding residential neighborhoods”(16). Winner describes the use of space in its cities and in the player’s use of space in similar way to Betsky, but from a vertical vantage point of the stadium or a bird’s eye view of the city. Winner points out the Dutch soccer teams great use of space by drawing back to a Dutch’s soccer team in its height in 1995 and the photographer, Van der Meer, who captured their great use of space. He believes that the Dutch landscape as Van der Meer saw it was too precise and mathematical about space. He states that “The landscape is an abstraction in the sense that it is only points, lines and surfaces, like a painting by Mondrian” (48). Here, Winner highlights how Van der Meer believed that the Dutch landscape from the air is so straight and precisely laid out as if it is a posting of Mondrian.

“Samenstelling II Piet Mondriaan Van Marion Tenbergen Op Canvas, Behang En Meer.” Werk Aan De Muur,

Winner and Betsky visualize Holland as country that has heavily considered the space available to them with a strategic eye. They both have also seen that considering space has been contagious in realms other than the architecture of its cities. The Dutch have put their faith in their national spacial planning for years. The Dutch use of space is a national past time and has manifested their attention to space now as Betsky and Winner see it with the farming and the farmlands and Dutch’s soccer team, respectively.

Works Cited

Betsky, Aaron., and Eeuwens, Adam. False Flat : Why Dutch Design Is so Good . Phaidon, 2004.

“Football – Dutch capped.(Brief Article).” The Economist (US), vol. 355, no. 8176, Economist Newspaper Ltd., June 2000.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s