The challenge

In the year 1990 the renovation of the centre of The Hague was largely completed, but the heart, the Lavi-area of the Spui quarter, still had to be developed (Fig. 10.1).

The area was called Lavi because the intention had been to build the offices of the Ministry of 'Landbouw en Visserij' (Lavi) there. This idea was abandoned in 1987 by the Rijksgebouwendienst (institution responsible for all governmental buildings). This decision affected not just one building, but also Carel Weeber's vision of the whole area as expressed in his urban plan of 1982. To avoid an impasse, a collaboration agreement was signed between the

Figure 10.1 Lavi-area of Spui quarter, The Hague, anno 1990 (Van Rossem, 1996, p. 56)

Governmental Pension Fund (ABP), the Railways (NS), the Rijksgebouwendi-enst, and the municipality of The Hague.

The Austrian urban architect Rob Krier was hired to develop concepts. He was supported in the background by Ton Meijer, director of MAB, a real estate development company based in The Hague, which had a successful track record in complex urban real estate developments in various European countries. Although Krier's third proposal of mid 1990 had hardly any chance to survive in the political arena, the new alderman Peter Noordanus and the newly (September 1989) appointed Rijksbouwmeester Rijnboutt took the wise decision to continue the collaboration with him. The question was: how?

The challenge was almost unlimited. First, there was the dominant presence of the Central Station, the former Staatsspoor. Already in 1908 Berlage had argued that for a healthy urban development the station had to be integrated with the other railway station in The Hague, Hollands Spoor, at only a few miles distance. In 1946 Dudok had again pointed at the nonsense of having these two stations at such a short distance. In the seventies, Weeber finally accepted it as a reality, but alleviated the architectural ugliness of the associated fly-over by projecting buildings over it.

Second, huge buildings had arisen at the circumference of the site, as becomes apparent from Figure 9.1. It was clear that it would be an enormous challenge to create a plan that would be in harmony with these historical constraints.

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