Interview with Michael Schuurman from Architect Powerhouse company
What were the starting points for the design?
The design originated from developments that the municipality of The Hague has gone through for the KJ square. We have chosen to add extra quality by cascading the apartments in the middle. This way we could create a green valley towards the two towers. With this green valley, the apartments were given really unique outdoor spaces. The green valley and the future green square in front of KJ form an ‘echo’ of the nearby Koekamp. That is the historic park opposite the central station of The Hague. With this green carpet effect the city gets a new entrance to be proud of.
Apartments with roof garden
In addition to the communal roof garden on the 8th floor, a number of apartments in the green valley each have their own roof garden. To make a real garden of it is already taken into account a designated part where a large tree could be planted. The green elements contribute to the concept of the building and are therefore essential.
What measures have been taken to make the building sustainable?
As the most important measure, all apartments will be gas-free. Due to the Energy Transition, this is a standard requirement from the government. We make it possible to connect the apartments to a heat-cold pump. The apartments are cooled during the summer and heated in the winter by stored heat-cold deep from the ground. One of the other measures that we take is working with as many natural materials as stone and wood as possible. This means that they can also be re-used or easily processed in the long term.
What other details are there in the building?
The bottom layer of the building, directly on the square, has been largely opened up as if a dune landscape has been carved out. This forms an attractive new entrance from the central station into the center of The Hague. The thousands of daily passers-by will soon pass under the written text of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The wooden upholstery of the vaulted ceiling extends all the way to the high-quality glass living windows and the store / catering areas of the building. By using the glass, the spaces are light and transparent. In this way the effect of the dune landscape continues in the other spaces. The natural stone floor of the public space also continues in the various residential areas and store and catering areas and forms one whole. The residential entrances are given an extra luxurious appearance through the use of high-quality materials such as marble, metal, glass and wood.
The KJ building is equipped with the latest technological developments. For example, when you are walking in front of the entrance as a resident with your telephone, the door automatically opens and the elevator is ready to take you to your own floor. Due to these technical means, the building and the routing are efficient and generally fewer lifts are needed. This saves a lot of energy without residents noticing or experiencing any hindrance.
There is room for retail and catering on the ground floor. How is this occupied?
The municipality has indicated in the zoning plan that there is room for high-value retail and small-scale catering. There are various useful facilities such as a laundry bar where you can have your laundry cleaned, but you can also drink a good cup of coffee. In order to turn the KJ-square into a lively square, a catering pavilion was included in the design. There will soon be a pleasant mix of visitors, travelers and residents.
Living together, sharing together
In the building a number of common areas will be realized which can be used by the residents.
For example, a number of so-called guest rooms are being realized on the second floor. Ideal if, for example, you have a slightly smaller apartment, but still want to invite someone to stay overnight.
There is also a fitness room and a common room with roof garden for the residents. The idea is that the residents can reserve this space for a cozy evening cooking with the cooking club or for other private purposes where you just need more space.