T H E H A G U E C I T Y H A L L
COME AND SEE THE SPECTACULAR MOTION PICTURE “ THE HAGUE IMPRESSIONS”
03 [main entrance]
06 [reception] 05
 The Hague Impressions  Tourist Information centre (VVV)  Meier’s Signature  Bistro De Ooievaer  Scale model of the city hall  Bridge  The atrium  Urban Window (4th floor)  Plaquette sustainability  Elevator  Palm trees (1st floor)  ‘Turn-around’ (basement garage)  Art piece ‘Passanten’ (1st floor)  Scale model of the Jewish neighbourhood  The public library  Furniture store Hulshoff  Forum  The council room (1st floor)  The Hague Information ©entre  The Hague Municipal Archives  The Hague International Centre  Wedding hall (1st floor)
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[entrance] 19 21
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Come on in!
Visit The Hague City Hall and discover the versatility of this architectural icon! This eleven-storey building serves not only as an office for 2.500 government employees, but also as a vibrant centre of the city. All visitors are welcome at the ‘Ice Palace’. The citizens of The Hague gave their city hall this nickname because of its white exterior. Admire the temporary expositions or visit a concert in the atrium, which is one of the largest atria in the world. See the works of art spread throughout the building or watch The Hague Impressions, an extraordinary film about the past, present and future of the city. Take the elevator or the stairs to the top of the building, where you will see the city hall from a completely different perspective! You can visit the city hall from Monday till Saturday. Except for holidays, then the atrium will be closed. Opening hours are: • Monday to Friday from 7.00 to 19.00 hrs. • Thursday from 7.00 to 21.30 hrs. • Saturday from 9.30 to 17.00 hrs.
“THE AUDIENCE EXPERIENCES AN AMAZING JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAST AND PRESENT OF THE CITY”
The Hague Impressions
The film The Hague Impressions  takes you on a trip through the past, the present and the future of the city. This short motion picture plays in a special movie theatre on the ground floor: from the library entrance, you can find it on your left. The film lasts 10 minutes and is continuously shown on a semicircular screen that measures 18 meters. The Hague Impressions is open to public during opening hours. For more information, go to denhaag.nl/impressions.
Tourist Information centre (VVV)
Are you looking for information about tourism and recreational activities? Be sure to go and visit the Tourist Information centre  at The Hague city hall. The attendants can provide you with details about local see sights, landmarks and events. The shop offer includes for example hiking and biking trails, and tickets for attractions and shows. The Tourist Information centre is opened daily during the following hours:
Book a guided tour
• Monday from 12.00 to 20.00 hrs. • Tuesday to Friday from 10.00 to 20.00 hrs. • Saturday from 10.00 to 17.00 hrs. • Sunday from 12.00 to 17.00 hrs. VVV Den Haag Spui 68 2511 BT The Hague 070 - 361 88 60 02
Do you want to visit the city hall with a guide? You can! In one hour, the tour guide takes a group, to a maximum of 25 people, to see all the highlights of the building. You can take a look in rooms that usually stay closed for the public. You can arrange a tour at least 14 days in advance on www.denhaag.nl. Please use the keyword “rondleiding”.
In 1986, the city government holds a competition to design a new city hall located at Spui square. The American architect Richard Meier wins the contest. Meier is known for his impeccable organization and that clearly shows in his design. On the 12th of October in 1934, Richard Meier is born in New Jersey. In 1963, he sets up his own design agency in New York: Richard Meier & Partners Architects. A few years later, he opens a second office in Los Angeles. Meier works with world renowned architects, like Breuer and Le Corbusier. Nowadays, he designs for projects around the world. Meier’s style is characterized by the color white, which to Meier is the mother of all colors. The entire building is covered with a very specific shade of white; even a few fire hydrants got a coat of white paint. When the city hall was finished, Meier put his signature  to his work, you can see it at the top of the stairs leading to the council room. Queen Beatrix opened the new city hall at the Spui in 1995.
“RICHARD MEIER AIMED TO DECREASE THE DISTANCE BETWEEN CITIZENS AND GOVERNMENT ”
Design in squares
The Hague city hall’s main characteristic is the color white. But Meier also uses a square of 45 by 45 centimeter as the base for the design. He makes sure that everything on the eleven floors of the building, every wall, every window and every stone, is a reduction or an enlargement of that square. Furthermore, Meier aims to decrease the distance between the city (citizens) and the government. He encourages government employees to go out into the city during their breaks and therefore only creates a few places to eat in the building. One of them is bistro De Ooievaer . Next to it is a scale model of the city hall , which shows the entire design of the building.
* Images: © Richard Meier & Partners
The bridge scene 07
Bridges  connect the two sides of the city hall building. Visitors are allowed to cross the bridges. Walk across the bridge to enjoy the beautiful view of the atrium! In the original design, these walkways measured a width of 45 centimeters. As some civil servants feared to walk these narrow bridges, Meier decided to make them twice their original size. Meier also designed metal grids along the bridges for safety. The bridge and the council room became ‘world famous’, due to the movie Ocean’s Twelve. In that blockbuster, the city hall represents the headquarters of Europol.
The atrium: The Hague’s living room
The notion of a market square inspires Meier to design the atrium . It is one of the largest atria in the world and is publicly accessible. Because of the large open space it provides, this city hall is suitable for all kinds of applications, such as cultural events and expositions. Stichting Atrium Den Haag is a foundation that regularly organizes art exhibitions and events in collaboration with cultural institutions in The Hague. For more information about this foundation, go to http://en.denhaag.nl/en/residents/to/Atrium-in-The-Hague-City-Hall.htm.
“THE BRIDGE BECaME WORLD FAMOUS, DUE TO THE MOVIE OCEAN’S TWELVE”
When you’re inside the atrium, you can see a large recess in the façade of the building. This is called the Urban Window . In the original design, this element was not included. It was added later on. Every city hall in the Netherlands has a balcony from which the mayor can speak to ‘the people’. Meier was not familiar with this tradition, so on request, he came up with the Urban Window at a later stage.
Don’t forget to take a look up at the ceiling when you’re in the atrium. Meier designed the city hall with a large glass rooftop, because he was so impressed with our Dutch skies. The view is always clear, due to the permanent washing system that keeps the exterior clean and neat. Inside the building, there is a rail, so the windows can be kept clean on this side too.
“ON A CLEAR DAY, YOU CAN EVEN SEE THE SKYLINE OF ROTTERDAM”
Two parts of town
During the designing process, Meier looked very closely at the urban surroundings which resulted in a perfect streamlined connection to the streets. The view from the upper floors is magnificent. One side overlooks the ‘peat’, the area where the ‘ordinary people’ used to live. On a clear day, you can even see the skyline of Rotterdam on this side. The other side of the city is also known as the ‘sand’, the historically chic part of town.
In summer and winter, the temperature inside the city hall is always the same. Groundwater is used for heating or cooling during the four seasons. Everywhere inside the building, there are pipes with running water. Moreover, there is a constant supply of oxygen. Do you want to know more about the environmental consciousness within the city hall? Go and take a look at the plaquette  hanging on the wall next to the stairs that lead to the wedding hall. Here you can read more about the building’s sustainability and energy efficiency.
Take the elevator
In the original design, Meier imagines glass elevator shafts . For people who are afraid of heights, that would be a scary prospect. That’s why the city government decides to change the design and replace the glass with opaque material. Even now, some employees prefer not to take these elevators, they are allowed to use the freight elevators elsewhere in the building to go to their office. 10
During the first five years after the opening of the new city hall, Richard Meier visits the building annually to ensure that everyone takes his rules into account. Nowadays, this monitoring is less intensive, but Meier still tracks the changes that are made. In exceptional cases, he gives permission to diverge from his rules. The five palm trees  on the first floor are an example of that. Previously, plants in the city hall were not permitted, but on request, Meier gave his permission to place these trees. He specifically chose palm trees, with open leaves, so the view would be least disturbed.
Art all around
The city hall displays various works of art. In the garage, for example, there is a huge panoramic picture of the Spui area. This artwork by Casimir is titled Turn-around . Furthermore, the first floor exhibits marble artworks by Irene Fortuyn. These benches, consisting of beams and cylinders, are titled Passanten (1995) , which means ‘passers by’. The idea behind this artwork is that people, who sit on the benches, are a part of the art. Feel free to take a seat on one of them and let someone take a picture of you on it. Lastly, you can go and see a bronze war memorial  on the ground floor. It is a scale model of the Jewish neighbourhood and the church next to the Spui, which is called ‘Nieuwe kerk’. It represents what this district looked like in the year 1892. Untill 1942, the Ashkenazi Jews lived in this area, but nowadays you can find Chinatown here.
This beautiful white building serves not only as a city hall. Besides offices for staff members, it houses catering facilities, public spaces and rentable rooms. In the original design, the first floor was meant especially for retailers. For a short period of time, there actually was a hairdresser, but now the spaces are used as meeting rooms. Moreover, the city hall facilitates a gym for government employees on the ninth floor. The public library  is also a part of Meier’s design. Aside from lending and reading books, people who visit the library can take a look at the exhibitions or participate in various activities. Design Centre Hulshoff  is located opposite the library. The city hall complex also includes the Forum , the part of the building that is on side of the central station. The Forum is owned by the ING bank and offers 18.000 square meters of office space.
“A GREAT QUEST WAS STARTED TO FIND CURTAINS THAT MATCHED MEIER’S WHITE”
The circular council room
For the council chamber , Meier came up with a round shape and he included the coat of arms of The Hague in stained glass. The black council chairs in this chamber, as well as the round table, were designed by Charles Eams. Marcel Breuer designed the black chairs on the public stand. Except for the coat of arms, Meier doesn’t want anything to be attached to the walls. Therefore, the city hall of The Hague is the only one in the Netherlands without a portrait of queen Beatrix in its council chamber. Instead, a bust of the queen decorates this room. The drapes covering the windows were not included in the first draft of the design. But because there turned out to be a need for curtains, a great quest was started to find textiles that matched Meier’s white, so the architect would give his permission to hang curtains. The chamber is open for the public during various meetings; official council meetings are also broadcasted live. On top of the council chamber, the ‘political terrace’ is located.
The Hague Information ©entre
Inside the atrium you can find a large information desk, The Hague Information ©entre . The desk attendants can provide you with all kinds of information about The Hague. This service centre is equipped with a spacious reception and exhibition space.
The Hague Municipal Archives
Right next to The Hague Information ©entre, the entrance to the Municipal Archives of The Hague  can be found. These archives comprise approximately fourteen kilometers of documents about the city of The Hague. You can consult hundreds of thousands of books, newspapers, magazines, maps, films and audio recordings. There is a large collection of letters and you can also go and find information about your ancestors who used to live in The Hague. 20
“THE HAGUE MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES COMPRISE APPROXIMATELY FOURTEEN KILOMETERS OF DOCUMENTS ABOUT THE CITY OF THE HAGUE”
The Hague International Centre
The Hague is home to approximately 40.000 expatriates. That’s why the city government arranged a special information center  for them in the central hall, in cooperation with the IND and ACCESS. To new expats, who live and work in The Hague, this centre serves as the primary contact. For more information, go to www.thehague.com.
Yes, I will!
Americans almost never marry in a city hall, that’s why Meier didn’t include a wedding hall in the original design. But a Dutch city hall without a wedding hall  is simply unimaginable, so Meier added it at a later stage. A large staircase leads from the atrium to the wedding hall. Ben van Os designed the interior of this room. As inspiration, he took Eline Vere, a character from a book of the Dutch, nineteenth century writer Louis Couperus. In the wedding hall, the same chairs were used as in the council chamber, but the ones here are covered with other, multicolored textiles. The bride and groom can take place underneath a Jewish canopy: a ‘chuppah’. An embroidered cloth with wedding pictures from the ‘20s decorates the window. The framework shows two sayings, in different languages: “Yes, I will” and “Marriage is love, love is marriage”. Unlike the council room, this chamber does have a portrait of queen Beatrix hanging from its wall. In the wedding room Meier also pulled an architectural joke; he designed a balcony where anyone who objects to the marriage can take a stand. So far, it’s never been used!
“COUPERUS’ ELINE VERE WAS THE SOURCE OF INSPIRATION FOR THE WEDDING HALL’S INTERIOR”
The Hague New City Centre
At the end of the last century, the construction of the new city hall was the starting point of a major urban renewal in the center of The Hague. This operation has already changed the skyline of the city considerably and gave it an enormous quality boost. Within the past years, a large area, from the offices in the Beatrix district to the Grote Marktstraat, has been transformed into a vibrant and architecturally interesting area: it includes new offices, houses, public transportation, shops, restaurants, and so on. During the next few years, even more changes will be made to the city center. For more information, go to the website of The Hague New City Centre: www.dhnc.nl/en.
Issue: The Hague, Bureau City Marketing, 2012 Concept, design, text and photography: cimon communicatie - www.cimon.nl