World Forum
World Forum. Photo: Roel Wijnants

War and peace exist side by side at this spot

Until the end of 1942, this spot was in the middle of the area of large, upper-class houses known as Zorgvliet. It was a leafy place off the main traffic routes. But the construction of the Atlantic Wall turned it into a bare wasteland.

Immediately after the war, the municipality hired architect W.M. Dudok to produce a reconstruction plan for the area. He proposed to redevelop it around a cluster of cultural venues including a theatre, conference centre and concert hall, all wedged between today’s Eisenhowerlaan and Johan de Wittlaan (a new highway following the route of the Atlantic Wall). Although the city council initially welcomed the plan, only a small part of it was ever implemented. The cluster of cultural institutions at its heart was reduced to a conference centre (today’s World Forum). Dudok said that The Hague had thereby forfeited the chance ‘to become one of the finest cities in old Europe.’ However, the omission created a new opportunity. The arrival of institutions like the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Europol has turned the area into an international zone of peace and justice.

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