Powerhouse Company, in collaboration with landscape architecture office DELVA, has unveiled the design for a new visitor center for the Koekamp, which will play an essential role as a gateway to the new Hollandse Duinen national park. This intervention will open part of Koekamp, a green expanse near The Hague’s Central Station, to the public. The visitor center, commissioned by the Dutch forestry commission, is expected to be completed in 2024.
The area known as Koekamp is a large plot of land surviving from medieval times: a cattle field turned into a deer park when Philip the Good brought the first deer here. It has been a public park since the early 17th century. Later, it was partly landscaped in the English country house style by 19th-century landscape architect Jan David Zocher. Nowadays, it is primarily fenced off, closed to the public, but maintaining its biodiversity, with large populations of deer and storks living here.
A city-wide project hopes to integrate Koekamp, reinforce its connections with the city center and train station, and include other green areas in The Hague and beyond, including the Malieveld, the Haagse Bos, and the many miles of sand dunes along the coast. These areas will combine under the umbrella of a new national park, the Hollandse Duinen park. The visitor center will play a central role in opening these areas to the public and inviting visitors to explore. In addition to the existing entrance on the east side of the site, there will be an entrance in the form of a pedestrian bridge on the north side.
We wanted to create an entrance that is not just a building but a landscape. The balance between the park's architecture, program, and design is essential here. Our inspiration was the past. Instead of repeating history, we lovingly adapt it and put it back with respect for nature and within the design spirit of landscape architect Zocher. - Steven Delva, DELVA Landscape Architecture and Urbanism
The natural landscape informs the design of the new visitor center it is surrounded by. The three houses, connected by a triple-winged roof, are positioned between the tree trunks. By weaving the architecture with the landscape, a central circular court is created, an informal outdoor meeting space with room for various activities. The first two public wings accommodate an information center to the south, where visitors can learn about the landscape and its long history, and a restaurant to the north. The third wing accommodates the offices of the forestry commission, allowing visitors to see and understand some of the foresters’ work.
The buildings are constructed entirely in timber and glass. This combination of façade materials, 50% wood and 50% glass, offers the most significant energy efficiency. The trio of structures rests on a floating wooden platform, surrounded by a looping pattern of paths evoking the organic pathways characteristic of Zocher’s work.
This is not the first collaboration between Powerhouse Company and landscape architecture and urbanism office DELVA. Some of their other projects include the IMB Headquarters and the Waterfront Working and Living Complex in Amsterdam, the renovation of Rotterdam Central Library, and the winning proposal for a competition for “Urban Woodland” in the Netherlands.