MVRDV unveils plans to reopen the hague's forgotten canals

MVRDV unveils plans to reopen the hague's forgotten canals

MVRDV — together with local organizations — has presented plans to reopen the hague’s 17th-century canals, which were filled-in between 1910 and 1970. the neighborhood participation project aims to revive a run-down part of the dutch city’s historic center. the vision, produced by MVRDV as a pro-bono initiative in collaboration with the various residents’ collectives, aims to improve the area’s sustainability, economy, traffic, and water management.

mvrdv hague canals
all images © MVRDV



in contrast to other dutch cities, trade relying on the city’s central canal network was never the main focus of the hague, which was founded as a government center. ‘all over the world, neighborhoods like the old center of the hague form the backbone of tourism and provide an identity to a city, but in the hague somehow this ancient and incredibly charming area was forgotten,’ explains winy maas, architect and co-founder of MVRDV. ‘the area offers the unique chance for an urban regeneration that will improve the local economy and make a leap forward in the city’s energy transition.’

mvrdv hague canals



a key driving force behind the vision is local resident shireen poyck, who united the various neighborhood initiatives and stakeholders in the ‘grachten open’ (canals open) initiative and, in 2018, called on her neighbor, MVRDV partner jan knikker, to participate. MVRDV drew up a vision to reopen the canals, building upon the work of the inhabitants. based on a study of the historical canals by local firm BAU, MVRDV envisions the restoration of the main canals, and has drawn up plans for the minor canals which are either dead-ends or lost due to underground works or buildings.

MVRDV unveils plans to reopen the hague's forgotten canals



according to the design team, each of these canal stubs must function as an urban activator, with proposals including swimming canals, koi carp canals, and even a surf canal which would actively support the ambition of the hague as a sports city. MVRDV’s vision combines the canals with the ‘spinoza power 2.0’ vision, which was created by the local community and includes a gastronomy route, the removal and renovation of two red light district streets, and a new market hall which replaces an under-performing parking garage. the scheme has now been presented to the city of the hague for review.

MVRDV unveils plans to reopen the hague's forgotten canals

MVRDV unveils plans to reopen the hague's forgotten canals

MVRDV unveils plans to reopen the hague's forgotten canals

MVRDV unveils plans to reopen the hague's forgotten canals

MVRDV unveils plans to reopen the hague's forgotten canals

MVRDV unveils plans to reopen the hague's forgotten canals
canal typologies

MVRDV unveils plans to reopen the hague's forgotten canals
route diagram



project info:


name: the hague open canals
location: the hague, netherlands
year: 2019
program: urban vision credits
architect: MVRDV
partner in charge: winy maas, jan knikker
design team: lisa ulbrich, gustavo van staveren, emilie koch, fedor bron, elien deceuninck visualisations: kirill emelianov
strategy and development: amanda rooseboom, miruna dunu
images: MVRDV
copyright: MVRDV 2018 – (winy maas, jacob van rijs, nathalie de vries) partners
advisor: shireen poyck
neighborhood organizations: grachten open / buurtplatform oude centrum eo (bob willem van hooft, chris schram, jan elsinga, shireen poyck); wijkorganisatie oude centrum / spinozakracht (karlijne scholts, marieke de jong, jan van den brink)

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