Directly go to  Main menu / submenu / searchfield
Home / Research / Polycentric metropolitan areas / Knowledge & Research Agenda / About the Knowledge & Research Agenda on Polycentric metropolitan areas

About the Knowledge & Research Agenda on Polycentric metropolitan areas

Over the past decade, polycentric metropolitan areas have become an increasingly widespread but relatively new policy issue at the European, national and regional scale. In total 48,5% of the urban population in Europe lives in polycentric metropolitan areas. There are high expectations when it comes to the integrated development of polycentric metropolitan areas. So far, important knowledge questions as regards to the processes at play remain largely unanswered. EMI’s Knowledge and Research Agenda on ‘Polycentric Metropolitan Areas’ presents the main challenges for cities derived from the transition from single monocentric cities to polycentric metropolitan areas: entering in the upward spiral of metropolisation.

Upward spiral of metropolisation

The process of metropolisation refers to the process in which a perhaps rather loose collection of closely situated cities performs better by means of increased functional, cultural and institutional integration. It is the challenge for cities in polycentric metropolitan areas to move up in the spiral of metropolisation. This allows cities to reap the benefits by jointly borrowing size from each other:

  • Functional integration: addresses the size and territorial distribution of the urban centres across the territory as well as the functional relations between them within the field of labour market, housing market, amenities, services and more
  • Cultural integration: tackles the identification and attachment that people have with the wider metropolitan area
  • Institutional integration (metropolitan governance): many issues these days call for an approach that is formulated and implemented at multiple scales and across administrative tiers


Upward spiral metropolisation

Metropolisation: a glimpse of research needs of cities

By means of all the applied methods, EMI identified critical gaps in our knowledge for the Knowledge and Research Agenda. Knowledge that is deemed essential by urban practitioners and researchers alike:

  • Gain more insight into the potential benefits of the process of metropolisation in polycentric metropolitan areas – how can cities exploit their joint critical mass?
  • Analyse which factors foster or hamper entering the upward spiral of metropolisation and the process of moving up in this spiral
  • Explore the importance of agglomeration in regional development, also vis-a-vis the importance of international networks


Next steps

EMI is strongly convinced that connecting academic researchers with urban practitioners creates significant added value for both worlds. EMI aims to form coalitions of urban practitioners and researchers to further address this knowledge and research agenda. The aim now is to create a strictly ‘research based, practice led’ research programme for, of and by cities, which is firmly rooted in a solutions-oriented approach. EMI invites all interested cities, urban professionals, umbrella organisations and academic institutes to take part in this research programme. Interested in the consortium to develop a Multiannual Knowledge and Research programme? Please e-mail EMI Network.


Photo billboard homepage: Mr. Johannes Riegler