Though Amsterdam is the Dutch capital, The Hague has always been the seat of government and home to the royal court. The royal palace, parliament, the judiciary and most ministries are within walking distance of each other. The Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, is housed in several buildings, including a former royal palace, two stately mansions and several later extensions.
The white stuccoed palace was designed by the French architect Daniël Marot in Louis XIV style during the eighteenth century. It is perhaps the only palace in the world situated in the corner of an urban square. Two stately avenues leading to the nearby parliament building meet at this corner. The large complex behind this smallish façade has three very different courtyards.
Inside the palace, the exterior diagonal from the front curves 45 degrees into an axis of the formal garden.
This French garden was restored in the 1980s. Thirty years later, some elements have been removed to simplify and elongate the space, making it more elegant. During the day, the grounds are publicly accessible through an archway facing a statue of Queen Wilhelmina in front of the Royal Palace.
The courtyard inside an extension built in the 1970s is only open to staff working at the Council of State. Built over a parking garage, it houses ten huge planters, shaped in a free-flowing form, which contain an abundance of shrubs, perennials and bulbs. Each season makes its mark with blossoms, growth, falling leaves and starkness, all succeeding each other endlessly.
The new office building replacing its predecessor on the corner of Parkstraat adds a contemporary character to the Council of State. Indentations in the building higher up provide space for plants to grow.
Randomly placed flagstones enable maintenance and create a contemporary, flat version of a traditional rock garden.
Merkx + Girod architecten
Jacqueline van der Kloet
Emilio Troncoso Larrain
Michael van Gessel