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Belgian Blue Stone in towns The Hague
City Hall, The Hague, Netherlands
Contracting Authority: City of The Hague
Architects: Richard Meyer, Joan Busquets, Ingenieursbureau Den Haag
Project Manager: Bert J. Verstraate

The new City Centre of The Hague is a large-scale project comprising a series of ministries and major public spaces.  The work is planned to be carried out over 20 years with more than 23 international architects working together on the project.

The first development phase related to the area surrounding the Central Station. It comprises 240,000 m2 of commercial buildings and 100,000 m2 of housing units, as well as the station itself.

The first building to emerge was the City Hall, built at the instigation of the City of The Hague.  Designed by Richard Meyer, this completely white, modernist building is surrounded by an esplanade of 10,000 m2. This esplanade has been made entirely of blue stone.

Tradition and modernism

Bert J. Verstraate, Project Manager Ingenieursbureau Den Haag:
“Around the city hall, Richard Meyer wanted a material of exceptional quality. He wanted a natural stone that would contrast with the whiteness of his building. That is why he chose Belgian Blue Stone. The work was entrusted to a group of architects from The Hague, the Ingenieursbureau Den Haag, under the supervision of the Catalan urban planning consultant, Joan Busquets.

The blue stone surface is very beautiful and moreover has a historical connection, since the use of blue stone in Holland goes back several hundred years. It can be found in many places and most of the old buildings have a façade, an entrance and window sills made of blue stone.”

A fascinating blue

The quality of Belgian Blue Stone was an important requirement, but so was its colour, which has a beauty of its own.

Bert J. Verstraate :
“When the stone acquires an attractive patina after use, the surface softens and takes on a subtle shade of blue.”

A non-slip surface

The architects opted for rough sawn 30 x 30 cm tiles with a combed finish.

Bert J. Verstraate :
"All the surfaces are sawn and the tiles were laid so as to create an effect that is repeated every 20 m2."

The guarantee of continuity of supply and a constant price

“The site was scheduled to be spread over several years and so the City of The Hague wanted to ensure a continuity of supply. Subsequent orders absolutely had to be fulfilled with the same quality and the same colour. Les Carrières de la Pierre Bleue Belge were able to provide us with those guarantees.”

Price stability was also a decisive factor:

“Another essential factor for a project of such importance was the fact that Les Carrières de la Pierre Bleue Belge guaranteed us practically a fixed price for the term of the contract. The only increase was index-linked. Such an arrangement was vital since if the price changed every year, it would be very difficult for us to control our budget. The other quarries did not give us reliable information regarding the price that we would have to pay, especially for additional orders.”

A conclusion in the form of advice

Bert J. Verstraate :
“When a building or a surface is being constructed with blue stone, qualities should not be mixed. Everybody knows that Asian stones are less expensive, but it is not the same stone and the difference will be visible. A further drawback of production from Asia is that you are never certain that you will receive the same type of stone from one order to the next.”

“A pedestrian precinct of 10.000 m2 made entirely of blue stone.”     

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