From Flux to Frame

Designing Infrastructure and Shaping Urbanization in Belgium

Maarten Van Acker

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Monograph - paperback

Bridging the gap between infrastructure and urbanism
Daily traffic jams, discussions whenever a new infrastructure project is launched, the health debate about car emissions … The tense relationship between infrastructure and its surroundings becomes clearer to us every day. Infrastructure and urbanism seem to belong to two different worlds. Whilst infrastructure design belongs to the domain of the engineer, urbanism is often part of the overlapping disciplines of architecture, social science, and policy studies.

From Flux to Frame is in the forefront of publications that set out to bridge the gap between those disciplines, and sheds a new light on two centuries of urban planning and transport history. The author investigates the spatial impact of highways, motorways, canals, tramways, and railways on the surrounding landscape by applying a new methodology that combines classical historical literature with innovative mapping techniques. The book features an abundance of previously unpublished historical illustrations of exceptional quality, making this an attractive book for various levels of readership. 

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

PART 1 Colonizing the Campine
1 An emerging national test site
2 Colonizing and canalizing the Campine [1838-1914]
3 The Iron Rhine and the re-quickening of the Campine Canal [1879-1914]
4 Endogenous trajectories towards a national industry [1894-1914]
5 Carbon colonization [1901-1939]
6 Infrastructure hijacking urbanization [1945-1970]
7 The multiple lives of the Campine infrastructure

PART 2 Developing (along) the Coastline(s)
1 Land in-sight: modeling the horizon of a new nation [circa 1830]
2 Tracking tourism [1830-1885]
3 Wiring the dunes
4 Rational coastal urbanization schemes meshed with modern roads
5 The coastal landscape framed by multimodal synergies

PART 3 Re-tracing the Antwerp Ringscape
1 The first exercise in encirclement and reinterpretation
2 The urban boulevard as a test case for a changing discipline
3 Designing an urban highway
4 Continuous non-conformity: new futures for the Ringscape
5 Urban infrastructures shaping the Antwerp Ringscape

The parallel histories and interwoven futures of infrastructure design and urbanism
Image Sources

Format: Monograph - paperback

Size: 230 × 170 mm

ISBN: 9789058679581

Publication: September 16, 2014

Languages: English

Stock item number: 91807

Maarten Van Acker is Professor of Urbanism at the University of Antwerp and an urban designer.

The major part of the book revolves around three cases where the author tries to unravel the relationship between infrastructure projects and the production of a, to a certain degree, urban built environment. The case descriptions are lengthy, 90 to 150 pages each, cover long historical periods, and contain a wealth of information and illustrations. Therefore, the book is a must read for readers interested in the industrialization of the Campine region, the development of the Flemish coast, and/or the development of the Antwerp Ringscape.
Jannes van Loon, Journal of Planning Education and Research 37 (4)

  Journal of Planning Education and Research

From Flux to Frame van Maarten Van Acker verdient een breder publiek. Het verzorgde en rijk geïllustreerde boek geeft een breed historisch kader aan de eeuwige spanning tussen ingenieurs en stadsplanners, tussen economie, infrastructuur, mobiliteit, ruimtelijke ordening en urbanisatie. Van Acker koos drie tot verbeelding sprekende gevallen: de kolonisatie van de Kempen en de aanleg van het Albertkanaal, de ontwikkeling van de kust en de kusttram, en de Antwerpse ring.
Marc Reynebeau, De Standaard, 19 december 2014


Ring verzoenen met meer groen: idee stamt uit 1910
Het Laatste Nieuws, 14/05/2014


The book is an in-depth research to the relationship between infrastructure and urbanization with a high academic quality. This is a kind of publication that unfortunately is hardly written anymore in the field of geography and planning. - PIETER TERHORST, University of Amsterdam


Maarten Van Acker traces the construction of the landscape in the Campine, the Coast and the Antwerp urban region of Belgium as a hybrid composite of four layers. Van Acker gives a fascinating analysis of the interaction of the urban actors driving the creation of these layers and gives an original and deep understanding of the city as an urban territory distributed over a wide area. - GRAHAME DAVID SHANE, Columbia University


Telling the story of territorial planning and design from an infrastructural point of view while revealing different and changing meanings of infrastructure in this process on such a big scale, while embracing its complexity is a valuable methodological contribution to the field.
- ERIC LUITEN, Delft University of Technology


This research introduces a valuable apparatus and inspiring terminology, able to bridge the current dichotomy between the disciplines of infrastructure design and urbanism.
- ALEXANDER D'HOOGHE, Massachusetts Institute of Technology