Governed from a parking lot

The distinctive architectural qualities of the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs and temporary House of Representatives

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Abstract

The focal point of this thesis lies within the state building situated on Bezuidenhoutseweg in The Hague. Having been inaugurated in 1985, the edifice functioned as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for approximately 35 years and, from 2021 onwards, as a temporary accommodation for the Dutch Parliament. This thesis, therefore, evaluates the building and its subsequent expansion concerning its role, architectural qualities, and functionality for both purposes. The thesis examines the overall development and situation of the building to provide a balanced answer to the main question, ‘In what way do the distinctive architectural qualities of the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs contribute to the building’s functionality in its role?’

The structuralist design by Dick Apon is characterized by a strong emphasis on the human scale in form and finish. The fragmented facade design plays with introverted and extroverted parts, making it highly suitable for the ministry’s function but less so for parliamentary functions, which benefit from a high degree of transparency. The strongly hierarchical structure of the building supports the ministry’s working methods but completely stifles the dynamics between politicians and the press.

The thesis concludes that the building provides much more functional accommodation for the ministry than for the Dutch Parliament. Therefore, this thesis ultimately recommends relocating the ministry of Foreign Affairs after the return of the Parliament and restoring it to its former glory.