PHOTOGRAPHY & TEXT ALAÏA FONK

It’s going strong in the city center of The Hague. In the end of 2013 they got the title “Beste Binnenstad van Nederland” (best city center of the Netherlands) and they keep on going. On Thursday September  18th “De Nieuwe Passage” got officially opened. With concepts that stayed interestingly constant over a spread of 15 years, architect Bernard Tschumi from New York created a pleasant protected place, inspired by the Delft Blue tiles, with a garden that can be enjoyed whatever the weather is.

In close cooperation with the town The Hague, the developers Multi Vastgoed and AM Real Estate Development could build a new icon for the city. Tschumi his task was to connect an Unesco Monument with a new concept. “It’s an attempt to bridge the 19th century with the 21th century and to improve urbanity. The movement, promenade, the walks through the streets, recapture a feeling of density’s activity and the architecture helps with that dialogue.”

With 10.500 m2 of stores and a hotel with 118 suites, this new building also has a 15-meter high glass ceiling, the building gets a light and open feeling. As Tschumi said himself “it is very simple, with slight angles so it would be more friendly for people to walk, and the stores can present their products better.”

The old Passage is now connected with the new Passage, which creates a new “street” that connects Spuistraat with the Grotemarkt Straat. The citizens have a bigger mall in town. “The relationship is essentially one of space, scale, continuation in the urban fabric and of typology which are in the same range. The preservation of the facade on Spuistraat is also a transition between the 19th century to today.”

The blue ceramic tiles on the outside are inspired by the 17th century Dutch ceramics, and used to create a dialogue between the old and the new. “We wanted to bring it back in a contemporary matter” Tschumi quoted. “It is a symbol of the passage, and it attracts attention. Nevertheless, it creates a dialogue with signs and a geometric configuration. By subtly reflecting the sky it brings light in the passage and acts as a signal of the urban event of the passage.”

When we asked Tschumi if the Nieuwe Haagse Passage will influence the style of upcoming building projects in The Hague he said: “its program, location and identity is quite unique and the only influence it can hopefully have is to be a reference in so far it brings urbanity and quality to the city.”

The garden eventually had to become vertical to accommodate the constrains that emerged during the development of the project.