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Why The Hague Central Station square is again failing to get the allure it deserves.

Ever travelled to The Hague by train? Then you must have been surprised when you walked out of The Hague Central Station. A more desolate square than the Koningin Julianaplein hardly exists. And that in the capital. Rough and crooked paving, a few hundred haphazardly parked (and sometimes broken) bicycles, some sales carts for flowers or snacks and hardly any place to sit. Only the zebra bell was popular.

The municipality has been trying to change this situation for years. Those attempts are finally yielding results. The square has been broken up to build a bicycle basement. A new apartment complex will be built on top of it. There is now an opportunity to also properly address the piece of square that will be preserved and give it a better place in the city. The design for the square accompanying the competition entry for the apartment complex shows exactly how it should be done. This design makes the Koningin Julianaplein the connecting link with, the city centre, the Malieveld and the Haagse Bos. The design draws the square across the various barriers in the area.

Less radical 

The designer of this plan is Delva Landscape Architects / Urbanism. Over the past few months, this agency has been adapting the plan to existing frameworks and agreements on behalf of the municipality. The implementation is now slightly less radical than the original plan, but the concept of a square that connects with its surroundings remains proudly intact.

The only problem: the municipality has no money for it. It sticks to the budgets previously set for the various sub-areas. Thus, the major interventions needed to connect everything together remain out of the question. Of course, it costs a lot of money to move up a tunnel mouth 500 metres. But that would solve a major problem: a hard boundary between park and square disappears.

Common problem

Of course, a decision to make a cut in local car traffic is not taken lightly either. Still, the solution chosen now is not a good one. Soon, cars and trams will wriggle along routes that are streamlined for pedestrians and cyclists. And there will only be more of these in the future. The municipality lacks the courage to go one step further.

It is a typical example of a common problem. A municipality wants high quality but refuses to accept the consequences, both financial and spatial. At best, this results in a half-hearted outcome. Examples of this merchant mentality can be seen all over the country.

Let me know in the comments which examples you know of. 

< Want to know more about why I like Delva's plan? You can here via blendle >

Tim De Boer

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