The design for De Vrijheidsplaats focuses on the urban integration, architecture and feasibility of the building. It is a complex of two residential towers on one of the most challenging development sites in the country. EGM architects has taken on that challenge together with a team of experts that includes Kondor Wessels Vastgoed, Amvest, Heijmans, Rietveld Architects, Powered by EGM, BOOM Landscape and Boele & Van Eesteren. De Vrijheidsplaats development spans the lowered Utrechtsebaan motorway and is an extremely dynamic site. To be able to live and work at this location, the lowered motorway will be partially tunnelled over. Building on top of the busy traffic artery presents a huge technical challenge. The physical barrier now formed by the Utrechtsebaan will be transformed into a green residential environment that connects the city centre with the Bezuidenhout neighbourhood.
From traffic artery to connecting city park The future development of The Hague and the Central Innovation District (CID) makes it imperative for the city to address the question of growth and density. The CID is the thriving economic heart of the city. It is situated between and around the city’s three main railway stations: Central Station, Holland Spoor and Laan van NOI. The location of De Vrijheidsplaats means it can become a car-free zone that stimulates cycling and walking. The newly designed park will feature a connecting route for pedestrians and cyclists, while residents can make use of shared cars and a shed for storing 1,000 bikes. The urban plan is optimally geared to creating a healthy and green environment. With a total of 450 homes and commercial amenities, De Vrijheidsplaats provides great opportunities for the inhabitants of The Hague. EGM has solved the complex problem of building above the tunnel. Constructing the residential towers on top of the Utrechtsebaan allows a longstanding wish to be fulfilled: to bridge this barrier in the city and to hide the motorway out of sight. The design also anticipates the possibility of fully covering the motorway and creating a linear green axis along its length. This would result in a green roof-park that connects the city centre with Bezuidenhout.
Mixed-use: living, working, socializing De Vrijheidsplaats is a hybrid building with a multifunctional plinth topped by two 70-metre-tall residential towers. The public ground and first floors are transparent, open and friendly, and they function as the ‘living room’ of the residential towers. There is space for cafés, restaurants, offices, workspaces and the storage of (shared) bikes. The residential towers contain 450 rental apartments, ranging in size from 40 to 100 m², as well as short-stay facilities. The variety of housing types, both subsidized rental and mid-segment rental, results is a huge diversity of residents, and a dynamic and vibrant community.
Architecture, material and colour Facades are faced in natural stone and reflects the colours of the city. The main colour blends with the urban centre and station area, while the natural stone veins harmonize with the brickwork structures of Bezuidenhout. The anodized aluminium window frames are coloured gold. Vertically divided facades emphasize the building’s height. The combination of colours and materials allows De Vrijheidsplaats to align with its surroundings and lends it a human, refined and almost regal character. Invitingly large expanses of glass in the plinth reveal the vibrant life, light and dynamism inside.
Climate-resilient landscape High-quality shared gardens are positioned around and on top of the building. In designing the greenery, the team took the sea climate of The Hague into account. Salty wind and dry soil often give trees an unusual and interesting form, making the park extra special. The roof garden between the towers is open to visitors and encourages social encounters and activities. And so a site now dominated by traffic is transformed into a healthy and welcoming environment in the centre of The Hague.
Urban legend The Vrijheid snack bar is a legend in The Hague and far beyond among ministers, footballers, taxi drivers, performers, porters and patrons of night-time venues. Legend has it that the now-deceased owner, Joop van Brugge, wanted to live a clean life after his release from prison, so he started a snack bar. He called it De Vrijheid (Dutch for ‘The Freedom’). However, the truth is that De Vrijheid is named after a place where once there was nothing, a ‘free place’. De Vrijheidsplaats project location is named after this celebrated snack bar.