LocationThe Hague, The Netherlands
ClientThe Hague City Council
PhotographsCourtesy of rudy uytenhaak
As a resultof the urban development plan for The Hague South West, the Escampdistrict of the city will experience a wave of renewal in the coming years. The main aim is to give the area a more varied and dynamic atmosphere.
One element of this plan is the new municipal office, which as the social and administrative heart of the district deserves to become an icon for The Hague South West/Escamp. Inspired by the genius loci of the plan by Willem MarinusDudok: an open city, in which primary volumes define the space of a spacious ‘park city’. Buildings are placed like ships throughout the park city: objects standing free in space rather than walled-in streets.
The municipal office, with its robust prow, will acquire a strong role as an orientation landmark in the ‘mental map’ of the area. The independence of the municipal office is emphasised by the orientation of the upper section of the building as an object on a rising plane.
The design of the building has an autonomous form, but is in keeping with the existing buildings in its colouring and situation,representing a new interpretation of the original light and ‘modern’ architectural heritage. The service building on the rising plane has an information square at its centre, opening up onto the various public functions and the collective office building.
Expressive, spatially surprising, flexible and functional
On the ground floor, in addition to facilities functions, are the public service desks of the municipal services, information facilities and a library. The wedding hall, the staff restaurant and the meeting centre are located on the first floor. On a higher level, above the atrium roof, is the municipal health service, while the multi-purpose building unfolds around the triangular atrium. The upper nine storeys are made up of homes.
The Hague Municipal Council aims to be a transparent organisation. In this new municipal office, contact both with the outside world and within the organisation is enhanced by the building’s triangular form. Because the workstations are placed in an open-plan office design around the atrium, staff have sightlines to each other and to other departments. By breaking open the corners of the triangular form, every department’s area is provided with special points with outside views. There is a corridor circuit on each storey, so encouraging informal contact between employees and different departments. There are stairways at regular intervals in these corridors, so vertical circuits are also created.
In an inventive manner, the Leyweg municipal achieves a result that is expressive in its form, spatially surprising, flexible and functional, and in which the logic of sustainable construction has been optimally applied.
In the structural concept of the Leyweg municipal office, spaciousness, construction and installation technology are optimally attuned to one another, with sustainability and economic intelligence as the primary criteria. So, for example, all ductsand installations are integrated in a climate-control floor with concrete core activation, which also has acoustic and fire prevention functionality. Hanging ceilings are therefore not necessary, enabling a spacious total storey height. Using the principle of load-bearing exterior walls, the office areas are fully flexible in their layout, and therefore flexible in use. The meticulous fine-tuning of all these aspects with one another results in a businesslike and efficient office building that makes use of simple, ‘proven’ construction techniques.