Based on a detailed reconstruction of the planning process of a controversial major building in the Dutch city of Groningen, we develop a theoretical and conceptual framework for studying object formation and stabilisation. We argue that the many forms of resistance against the object itself triggered a variety of counter-strategies of object formation. We make a distinction between sites, paths and techniques of object formation. To study object formation in more detail we distinguish three techniques: reification, solidification and codification. The techniques of object formation are accompanied by three techniques that produce a relative stability of the object, that increases its irreversibility, the likelihood of object survival: objectification, naturalisation and institutionalisation. We conclude that complete irreversibility is an illusion in governance and planning processes.

Martijn Duineveld, Kristof Van Assche and Raoul Beunen (2013) Making things irreversible. Object stabilization in urban planning and design. Geoforum. Online first:

This article contributes to the development of evolutionary governace theory (EGT). More information and articles can be found on the website