From fortification to International Zone

At the end of World War II, this area was occupied by the Atlantic Wall (defence works constructed by the Nazi occupation authorities to protect the Third Reich against Allied naval attack). Much of the original townscape had disappeared and trees had been uprooted. The question was what to do with the site. The city authorities of The Hague asked town architect Willem Marinus Dudok to produce plans for it. He came up with the idea of a major cultural centre, possibly coupled to a university, city archives, postal service museum and music conservatory, all set among parks and gardens. But almost nothing came of his plan. The site of his proposed cultural centre is now occupied by the World Forum conference centre, designed by J.J.P. Oud. The tower block, which conceals the conference centre’s chimneys, is also by Oud and his son Hans. It was originally built as a hotel for conference-goers but this use of it proved financially unviable. It is now surrounded by office buildings and hotels and the area has become the heart of The Hague’s International Zone. The international organizations based in the zone provide 18,000 jobs, as well as indirect employment for a further 17,000 people in sectors like the service industry and catering.