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Published: Thursday, September 21, 2006

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Souterrain, The Hague

The building is a sandwich of a subway line with 2 layers of parking on top and a station at either end. Its stretches out below the main shopping street, repeating its outlines, creating a body of underground connections that serves the city from underneath.


Architecture-Page | Souterrain, The Hague, Netherlands by OMA
The 600-meter long tunnel accommodating the two tramway stations.

The Project

The Hague in a certain sense is an imprisoned city, confined by the sea, the highway connecting Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and neighbouring cites. It is therefore the only city that for its growth relies on redefinition of sites within its boundaries. To grow, for this city, means to become more dense.

The Hague, the Dutch capital of conservatism and bureaucracy, has planned the completion of more than 30 projects in the centre - most of them much larger than any of the existing buildings, which will transform the character and scale of the existing fabric before the turn of the century radically. Surprisingly, the increase in density (+ 500.000 m2 of program) goes hand in hand with plans to minimize car traffic on street level. To achieve this, a so called parking-road is strung around the heart of the city, defining a 1.000.000 m2 'island' forbidden to all but local traffic. This loop-road will connect to a number of - largely underground - parking garages.

Architecture-Page | Souterrain, The Hague, Netherlands by OMA
The underground facilities located within OMA's project include a poster museum.

Most - existing and new - parkings connect to the loop individually, each one of them isolated from the others. One of the new projects that is as much an element of infrastructure as it is a building, is the digging of a multi-storey tunnel ( a 1250 m long subway 'scoop', with 2 stations and a 375 car parking-garage). This tunnel-building is the necessary addition that makes all other buildings work. It acts like a spine connecting the separate 'organs', creating a body of underground connections that serve the city from underneath.

Souterrain, The Hague - Schematic drawing [opens in a pop-up window - 54 KB image]

The city is turning into a kind of 'La Defense in reverse', the slumbering and existing are being reanimated by an 'underworld' of interconnecting spaces. Namely - parking garages, rails, tram stops and roads even; bringing everything that is necessary underground.

Souterrain, The Hague - Cut-away drawing - A [opens in a pop-up window - 100 KB image]

Souterrain, The Hague - Cut-away drawing - B [opens in a pop-up window - 100 KB image]

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