World Forum

War and peace exist side by side at this spot.

Until the end of 1942, this spot was in the middle of the area of large, upper-class houses known as Zorgvliet. It was a leafy place off the main traffic routes. But the construction of the Atlantic Wall turned it into a bare wasteland.

Immediately after the war, the municipality hired architect W.M. Dudok to produce a reconstruction plan for the area. He proposed to redevelop it around a cluster of cultural venues including a theatre, conference centre and concert hall, all wedged between today’s Eisenhowerlaan and Johan de Wittlaan (a new highway following the route of the Atlantic Wall). Although the city council initially welcomed the plan, only a small part of it was ever implemented. The cluster of cultural institutions at its heart was reduced to a conference centre (today’s World Forum). Dudok said that The Hague had thereby forfeited the chance ‘to become one of the finest cities in old Europe.’ However, the omission created a new opportunity. The arrival of institutions like the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and Europol has turned the area into an international zone of peace and justice.

PictureRoel Wijnants / CC
Ernst Casimirlaan, 1930

Ernst Casimirlaan in 1930. This street does not exist anymore. The Hague City Archives

Willem Frederiklaan

Willem Frederiklaan, c. 1930. This street does not exist anymore. The Hague City Archives

Willem Frederiklaan, 1943

Willem Frederiklaan, 1943. The Hague City Archives

Anti-tankwall near Willem Frederiklaan and Ernst Casimirlaan

Anti-tankwall near Willem Frederiklaan and Ernst Casimirlaan. The Hague City Archives

Detail of Dudok's plan

Detail of Dudok's plan. The three connected buildings are the concert hall, congress hall and theater. 

Model Dudok

Models with adjustments to the orginal Dudok plans. The Hague City Archives

Congress hall under construction

Congress hall under construction, 1966. The Hague City Archives

Johan de Wittlaan, 1953

Johan de Wittlaan, 1953. The Hague City Archives

Congress hall under construction, 1965

Congress hall under construction, 1965. The Hague City Archives

Johan de Wittlaan, 1966

Johan de Wittlaan, 1966. Jan Stegeman / The Hague City Archives

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