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M-shaped building in The Hague by Rem Koolhaas

The new central station building in The Hague will be in the shape of the letter M. The City Council voted Thursday for the construction of the design by Rem Koolhaas.

Homes, offices and shops are planned in the 93 meters high building at the Queen Julianaplein. Completion is expected in 2015.

The municipality has committed itself to rent 12,500 square feet of office space if they are unable to rent space to other parties.

The building has a total of 43 000 square meters of office space. In addition, it will have 179 apartments and shops on the ground floor. Under the square is a parking area planned for six thousand bikes.

Koningen Julianaplein has long been a vacant transition area between The Hague’s historic city centre, a modern office quarter, Malieveld park in front, and the central station behind. OMA designed a large three-legged structure, 93 metres tall, that gives definition and identity to this in-between urban space.

Since the project began in 2002, a number of studies were completed to investigate how a new development could structure the incoherent environment and at the same time offer a recognisable, attractive, and free-flowing link into the station. The requested size of the development seemed to indicate a need for one or two towers. However, because of the site’s direct link with the station, OMA decided to develop a different typology that would be better equipped to perform such a crucial role.

The result is three tapered towers – two containing a total of 179 apartments, one (the largest) for offices – that meet and merge at the top, forming a continous, curving structure that encompasses Koningen Julianaplein on two sides. A new public plaza will be created as a result, with reatail areas and major new thoroughfares that facilitate pedestrian flow into the station. (Below ground, there will be four levels of public parking, including space for 6,000 bicycles.) Pedestrian passages between the legs of the building will frame various views of the city.

A third wing of the building, which in an earlier version extended into the park, was abandoned due to building restrictions. Inspired by Venus de Milo’s missing arms, we opted to simply cut off this extension and leave the cut visible as a key attractive feature of the building: a glass-facaded protrusion that cantilevers over the Bezuidenhoutseweg, offering a panorama over the park.

In 1975, Koolhaas founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in London with Madelon Vriesendorm and Elia and Zoe Zenghelis. Focusing on contemporary design, the company won a competition for an addition to the Parliament in The Hague and a major commission to develop a master plan for a housing quarter in Amsterdam.

Rem Koolhaas has been called in turns Modernist and Deconstructivist, yet many critics claim that he leans toward Humanism. Koolhaas’s work searches for a link between technology and humanity. Koolhaas was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2000.