This publication brings together a series of urbanistic projects that have been carried out since 1991 and share the spatial scope of the downtown of The Hague. The programme, methodological approach and operative development of each of the six projects are very different. Their presentation sequentially and in a group may help to reveal the major opportunities involved in work on a central urban space from the viewpoint of urban rehabilitation which, if presented individually would probably not stand out in the same relief.
The various projects share the same scale of approach of city design based on the intermediate scale. It seems that this scale is suitable for drawing up proposals that, taking into account real development data in the mid-term, can offer an overview that contains a hypothesis for the transformation of the central area of The Hague.
The proposals presented here are normally referred to as urban projects, or as proposals for the reconfiguration of public space, or the restructuring of the city centre, or the development of a piece of urban architecture, or else as a master plan for the creation of a new downtown in the city. They might all be said to seek the creation of a new urbanity for the existing city.
The works are described in terms of a conceptualization of the urbanistic project and carried out from the viewpoint of a practice that is not from the municipality or even the same country, but one that has had the critical monitoring and technical backing of the various municipal and central authorities. Without this synergy, most of these proposals would not have the validity and the meaning that time has given them.
The projects respond to different missions and scopes, and are located between the city's main entrances by rail and motorway, and in the environs of the historic centre, a seminal feature of The Hague.
As this booklet will show, this is a paradigm space for modern urbanism since, after World War II, very different outlines and projects were superposed in relatively short periods of time.
The proposals described here have enjoyed a continuity and superposition in space that renders them quite singular, yet each of them has moved according to very varying times and programmatic indications. there is no prior definition of the works as a whole – each project was addressed independently in time and was therefore able to use and redirect the accumulated experience of its forerunners. This is another possible motive for bringing them together in one booklet.
Reflection on the overlapping and mutual relations of the projects is not the content of this publication; its basic purpose is to present readers with the material of plans, to a large extent carried out, but which also includes the outlines and projects that were drawn up and not implemented. We consider that an appraisal of these urbanistic projects should include those that have been executed but also those that have been called off because their processes gave rise to other data that invalidated or postponed tem, and that now form part of the memory of a possible city.
Artyplan, Barcelona, 2004
The Hague, Zuid-Holland, The Netherlands