42nd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "From Industry to Advanced Services - Perspectives of European Metropolitan Regions", August 27th - 31st, 2002, Dortmund, Germany
The dispersal of population, commerce and industry to the outer edges of cities is, in quantitative terms, the most important development in urban areas in west-ern industrial societies in the last half century. The processes of peripheral growth have for a long time been observed and interpreted in the context of what might be called a 'discourse of dissolution of urban structures'. Key items of the discourse are terms like 'urban sprawl' or 'dispersal' and a rhetoric of a vanishing of the (traditional) 'European City'. In the last decade the discourse has been partly replaced by a perspective that focuses more on the newly emerging spatial structures on the urban fringe itself. The new discourse on urban reorganisation in the periphery is based on various sources: - Edge Cities and other associated forms of suburban centres have become ever more important elements of metropolitan regions in North America. - New theoretical approaches, like Regulation Theory, put emphasis on develop-ments in the urban periphery in search for 'post-Fordist' urban structures. The paper examines the question what types of new spatial clusters of economic activities can be identified in the periphery of European metropolitan areas. Empirical results of a cross section of case studies are presented. The case studies focus on metropolitan areas of European importance (Berlin, Budapest, Madrid, Moscow and Paris). Two levels of economic poles are identified: - New economic poles: concentration areas of economic activities that emerge in the last decades and have and employment size of at least 5000. - New economic nodes: activity centres of a minimum employment size of at least 1000. The results show that very few of these new economic poles bear resemblance to American Edge Cities.