A workshop by Atelier Rijksbouwmeester and the NCTb (the Nationaal Coordinator Terrorismebestrijding ) was organized to bring new answers to the question of how buildings could be secured against terrorist attacks. The possible threats could be vehicles crashing into the building, explosions, or ballistic attacks. 6 offices, Anne Holtrop, Dus Architects, Buro Harro, Lola Landscape, Sander Hofstee and myself, were asked to come up with new solutions for an existing situation/building and another one that would be the ideal Embassy as we imagined it. I was assigned to investigate ideas for the ASTA theater in The Hague and then 200 meter away at the site of the current Ministry of Defense on Plein 4. Here I had the task to design a building from scratch. The fictional function of the building was to be an embassy.
We very soon got the feeling that we had been called in for a battle that couldn’t be won. Anyone researching into weapons technology for a minute will have to admit that every defense is always overcome by the next weapon and will therefore be quickly outdated. On the other hand, a building should look secure but still give an open and friendly character. Furthermore the NTCb is investing their money into security and nothing has been happening. Which is also good, but there is no proof of which of their safety measures have been effective - or if they were just lucky. However, should something happen, it would always be bad news. Even a prevented incident away from an Embassy would cast a negative shadow over the feeling of safety.
The first conclusion is to make things transparent by giving a public function to the building and opening it up to the city. Right now embassies are closed office buildings where no one is sure of what’s going on. If you would open up the building to cultural events, as a display case (that is usually held in other venues), it might not make it safer in the case of an attack, but would gain trust and interest from the public, thus polishing up its image. As an additional positive aspect, it could allow true exchange.
Both Designs therefore feature an auditorium and exhibition space to create a possibility for meetings. The different functions of the rest of the embassy are then layered in increasing distance to the public according to its safety needs.
Ines Quintero Antolin, Katharinna Riedel
Gen Yamamoto, Adriaan Mellegers, Timothy Moore, Thijs van Bijsterveld