Planning infrastructure replacements: Restructuring and exerting partial control over the environment

Mark Zandvoort*, Maarten J. van der Vlist

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


By building infrastructure, planners want to exert control over the environment for the sake of society. Due to uncertainty and complexity, such control is always limited and can become contested. Based on a case study of replacing a pumping station, we show how planners can understand the replacement of infrastructure and what informs adequate replacement strategies amid uncertainty. The paper argues that the concepts (un)control and (re)structuring help understand replacements in the context of infrastructure planning. Infrastructure replacements are interventions on different levels which restructure existing systems, asset networks, local areas and assets themselves. Necessary information for developing a replacement strategy, exerted control or uncontrol, possible innovations and restructuring effects differ among these levels. We conclude that planners need to be cognizant that infrastructure replacements, no matter how large or small, restructure both environments and social institutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-76
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • (un)control
  • Infrastructure
  • Replacement strategies
  • System transformation
  • Uncertainty

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