Recycling Waste Cathedral Binckhorst The Hague

Recently, five young architectural firms presented their contribution to the competition ‘Reuse the waste cathedral Binckhorst Haag’. With this, they gave their vision on the question: “What is needed for significant area development to take place here in line with the needs of a livable city?”

The city of The Hague has big plans to expand the city center with a large number of residential and work buildings. De Binckhorst is one of the areas where development is in full swing. The waste transfer of AVR (Waste Processing Rijnmond) originated in the 1990s on the site of the former gas plant in The Hague. It is expected that this Waste Cathedral will be empty in the near future. A fantastic opportunity for a distinctive and investigative design for a vital reuse in a unique location. This at the intersection of different area transformations in The Hague (Central Innovation District areas and Binckhorst).

In order to find a good solution, a competition was organized by Jan Brouwer and Job Roos. The architectural firms Site Practice, Atelier Tomas Dirrix, VLOT architects, CAS and ATELIERUS each gave their own interpretation of this task.


From the 24 applications, the jury selected five architects who were allowed to present their ideas. Nicholas Clarke, Architecture and Heritage Specialist, opened the evening. He made it clear that it is not necessarily about preserving heritage. What he cares about is ‘giving a chronodiversity and thus broad prosperity to the city’. For example, this competition was not only aimed at reusing a building, but was also primarily about area development. In addition, sustainable use of heritage and cultural history in new urban developments.

The proposals look broadly at the historical context, the existing buildings and the existing landscape. Further for use by and for entrepreneurs and residents in the area and of the city – and both problems and opportunities. Interest is shown in social contexts, in climate, nature, ecology and soil pollution. And of course for waste. The attention to the banks, the water and the connection to the area around Binckhorst requires further reflection.

Five suggestions

For example, VLOT architects presented an alternative to total renovation with the Bevangen Waard plan and it takes as its starting point the building’s already present, often hidden, qualities. Demolition or separation is limited to the extreme; the materials are recycled and new additions are sustainable. One of the facades is removed so that the building is in open contact with the water.

In CAS’s Kring Den Haag plan, the Waste Cathedral is to function as a circular campus for materials that become available for recycling in and around the area. The building functions as a free port, as a place for all kinds of (cultural) activities and as a thrift store.

Site Practice’s Cathedral of Things puts embracing the heritage that is present above change. The design is in line with an existing park design, but has been left free in relation to programming. The plan focuses primarily on the process: a participatory process is proposed that is not sequential but simultaneous.

The Ministry of Fertile Land by Atelier Tomas Dirrix asks the question: “What if the waste treatment plant remains a waste treatment plant?” They argue that new developments in a city are rarely concerned with the fact that each new resident also equals the arrival of more waste. The Waste Cathedral is used in this plan to reduce the mountain of waste in The Hague by composting bio-waste. The resulting compost can improve the soil in the park around the building. Because the building is located in the center of The Hague, the waste remains visible to the city’s inhabitants, reminding them to consume and throw away less.

Atelier US’s Divina Narcotica plan offers a solution to a hidden problem in Binckhorst: drug use. The plan is based on decriminalizing this. The building has space for the manufacture of medicines, but also for education, medical support and psychological counselling.

See the presentations of the 5 finalists here.

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Tags: Atelier Tomas Dirrix, Atelier US, Binkhorst, CAS, Site Practice, VLOT Architects

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