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Minke Walda is a PhD candidate in Architectural History at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) with support from the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).


‘Ter voorkoming van ontciering’. Decline and demolition in the urban network of Holland in the long eighteenth century (1680-1830)


My PhD research focuses on the phenomenon of shrinkage and demolition and its spatial consequences. Being accustomed to growth, we tend to forget shrinkage is a recurrent phenomenon in urban history. In the ‘long eighteenth century’ (1670-1830) the urban network in Holland faced a period of economic and demographic decline that became spatially visible in a severe demolition practice and ‘empty towns’. Travelogues describe images of towns that remind us of contemporary Detroit.


In this research the governmental management of urban decline and demolition will be approached as a distinct spatial strategy, aimed in particular at preserving the image of the city as a thriving urban community. Hypothesis is that this strategy was in fact common in all shrinking towns in the province of Holland.


A comparative analysis of the most important shrinking towns of Early Modern Holland, based on archival research, will make it possible to investigate in detail the actions and instruments deployed to manage urban decline. This will not only increase our understanding of ‘planning for decline’ within Dutch urban history, but could also contribute to an international framework on the spatial pattern and management of shrinkage in the past, which may also inform heritage professionals and urban planners and architects facing shrinkage in the future.

Ancillary activities

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Education/Academic qualification

Visual Arts, Media and Architecture (research master), Master, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Erfgoedstudies, Master, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Kunstgeschiedenis, met specialisatie Architectuurgeschiedenis, Bachelor, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

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demolition Earth & Environmental Sciences
urban history Earth & Environmental Sciences
eighteenth century Earth & Environmental Sciences
economics Earth & Environmental Sciences

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Research Output 2014 2018

  • 6 Chapter
  • 2 Article
  • 1 Book/Film/Article review

'De kroon van het hoofd geslagen'. Enkhuizen als krimpende stad in de lange achttiende eeuw (1680-1840)

Walda, M., Sep 2017, Steevast: Jaaruitgave van de Vereniging Oud Enkhuizen. 2017 ed. Enkhuizen, p. 6-18 13 p. (Steevast. Jaaruitgave Vereniging Oud Enkhuizen).

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterPopular

Hoofdstukken 'Overtoomse Veld en Westlandgracht. Schakel tussen de oude en nieuwe stad' en 'Buitenveldert. Luxe woonwijk in het groen'

Walda, M., 2017, De nieuwe grachtengordel. : De realisatie van het Algemeen Uitbreidingsplan van Amsterdam. Steenhuis, M. (ed.). Bussum: Thoth

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterProfessional

'Het vraagstuk van de huisvesting der bejaarden': Het archief als bron van reflectie

Walda, M. & Ellen Smit, 2016, Wonen zonder zorg(en): Van zorg met verblijf naar wonen met of zonder zorg. Graaff, P. (ed.). Veldacademie

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterProfessional

Activities 2014 2014

  • 1 Lecture / Presentation

Engaging Audiences through Travelling Heritage Routes

L.R. Egberts (Speaker), M. Walda (Speaker)
6 Nov 2014

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic