The outdated building Rijnstraat 8 in The Hague, which was once the location of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Development, was transformed by OMA under the direction of Ellen van Loon into a modern office environment with exciting references to the surrounding city. Today, the government building exudes openness and transparency, which is also thanks to the opening of the ground floor and a new, large-scale glass façade.
Office building Rijnstraat
Office building Rijnstraat 8
Den Haag, NL
OMA, Ellen van Loon
De Groot & Visser/Vorsselmans
When it was completed in 1992, the 16-storey building complex opposite the main train station was a flagship project for sustainable building. Eight atriums without air conditioning brought the outside in and offered the 3000 employees working there at the time high-quality, green indoor spaces shut off from the noisy streets.
OMA developed a contemporary concept with the aim of maintaining the architectural quality of the existing building and reinterpreting it in a modern way. The building also needed to be optimised in line with the city’s new master plan, which aimed at achieving more efficiency in the design, construction, financing, maintenance and operation of public buildings. The project was carried out in collaboration with Jan Hoogstad, the architect of the original building. All the interior walls, ceilings and floors were removed as part of the restructuring and there was a strong emphasis on sustainability this time round too. The materials that were removed – around 20% of the building – were systematically separated and, according to the architects, over 99% were recycled for the new design.
The new building complex now houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. In order to meet the myriad requirements for modern office work, a lively mixture of open plan offices, individual workstations, meeting cubes and two-storey areas was created, offering a high level of flexibility while also saving on space. The light and airy atriums extend upwards with striking, cantilevered staircases in black steel. Likewise, newly created corridors that run along the entire length of the building connect the individual wings, providing orientation and allowing views of the surroundings.
The new entrance area is significant on both an architectural and urban development level. Part of the ground floor was turned into a public space with a spacious plaza that connects the main train station with the pedestrian zone. Another nod to the city is made by the new glass façade on the front of the building. Custom-made V8 profiles with triple glazing significantly reduce the energy consumption, as does the use of solar panels, LED lighting, and heat and cold storage.
Text: Brigitte Bernhardt
Photos: Nick Guttridge, Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti © OMA