A tram tunnel connecting 2 stations combined with a parking garage
The souterrain tram tunnel is an element of infrastructure and a building at the same time. Located in the city centre of The Hague, the multistory underground tunnel provides 500 parking spaces on one level, while connecting two tram stations on the level below.
The Hague in a certain sense is an imprisoned city, confined by the sea, the highway connecting Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and neighbouring cites. It therefore relies for its growth on the redefinition of sites within its boundaries. To grow, for this city, means to become more dense.

The Hague, the Dutch capital of conservatism and bureaucracy, has planned the completion of more than 30 projects in the centre - most of them much larger than any of the existing buildings - which will radically transform the character and scale of the existing fabric. Surprisingly, the increase in density (more than 500,000 m2 of program) goes hand in hand with plans to minimize car traffic on street level. To achieve this, a so-called parking-road is strung around the heart of the city, defining a 1,000,000m2 'island' forbidden to all but local traffic. This loop-road will connect to a number of - largely underground - parking garages and to a subterranean service road that brings trucks to the heart of the shopping district.

Most - existing and new - car parks connect to the loop individually, each one of them isolated from the others. One of the new projects, which is as much an element of infrastructure as it is a building, is the digging of a multistorey tunnel - a 1,200m subway 'scoop', with two stations and a 500-car parking garage. This tunnel-building is the necessary addition that makes all the other buildings work. The tunnel acts like a spine connecting the separate 'organs', creating a body of underground connections that serves the city from underneath.

The city is turning into a kind of La Defense in reverse, the slumbering existing buildings reanimated by an underworld of interconnecting parking garages, rails, tramstops and roads even, bringing underground everything necessary but no longer acceptable on grade.

The main challenge of this project was to prove that architecture can have a positive effect when applied to the rigour of transportation pragmatism. The building is a sandwich of a subway-line with two layers of parking on top and a station at either end. It stretches out below the main shopping street, repeating its outlines, leaving a 'workspace' of 600x15m approximately, to overcome the boredom of a 600m long continuous section. To provide an answer to the question of underground orientation/isolation, every opportunity has been taken to modify the height and the width of the space, to connect physically or visually to other parts of the tunnel's program, to provide views of the outside - city or sky, to link the tunnel with surrounding shops and parking.

Usually, parking garages are victims of technical and economic constraints, the full weight of all structural and mechanical difficulties imposed upon them. In this case, the linearity of the site turned out to be an escape from this prison of practice. Ventilation: the tunnel is the duct; structure: the tunnel is the walls, the beams and the slabs. The parking becomes a fluid space, making use of the slopes in the rail and exploiting one of the gives, its enormous length, as an unprecedent quality. Where parking and stations meet, partitioning walls have been kept transparent. Architectural finishes are almost non-existent due to the surprising beauty of the  rock-like concrete walls, pored in the irregular coast soil of The Hague; only light - daylight and electric - gives texture and clear readings of the fluid spaces underground. 
Competition 1994. Completion 2004

Centre of The Hague, Holland

Tram tunnel (1,250m), 2 tram stations, parking garage for 375 cars, poster museum

The City of The Hague, project team Souterrain


Local architect:
LAB-DA, Rob Hilz with Martin van Gerrevink, Martin Pasman, Peter Toering

S.A.T. (construction, installations)

Martin van Gerrevink, Martin Pasman, Peter Toering

Gemeentewerken Rotterdam (construction), Technical Management (installations)

Tram Kom, consortium of Van Hattum en Blankevoort, Ballast Nedam and Strukton

COB Nieuws #30, 11/05
Cobouw #3, 2003
DWCorporate #3, 2005
L'industria della costruzioni #388, 03-04/06

Partners in charge:
Rem Koolhaas, Floris Alkemade

René Heijnen with Rients Dijkstra, Hernando Arrazola, Jeanne Gang, Farshid Moussavi, Juliette Bekkering, Frans Blok, Udo Garritzmann, Douglas Grieco, Fuminori Hoshino, Winy Maas, Ray Maggiore, Miguel Rodriguez, Karolien de Schepper, Enno Stemerding, Hiroki Sugiyama, Willem Timmer, Tom Tulloch, Yushi Uehara, Jacques Vink

2007 Netherlands Building Award
2005 Dutch Design Prize for Public Space

The project material for Souterrain is part of the OMA Collection.

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture and AMO accommodate their archives, including drawings, models, sketches and any related material, under protected conditions in Rotterdam. Researchers can apply to work in the archive or receive material upon request. The OMA Collection will invoice for research and material expenses. Contact Talitha van Dijk: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it