2007, Rijswijk, The Netherlands

Project Coordinator:

Marc Jacobs, Netherlands
Team Leader:
Ric Stephens, United States of America

Marc Jacobs, ISOCARP member and director of TRPC initiated the ISOCARP Urban Planning Advisory Team (UPAT) with the municipality of Rijswijk. Rijswijk is a historical, midsized city with a population of 47,000 within the The Hague agglomeration. The City Council invited ISOCARP to send a UPAT to study and prepare recommendations for a 240-hectare (600-acre) site known as Rijswijk Zuid (South Rijswijk). This area is part of a Dutch policy plan preventing urban areas from growing together. Between the urban areas of Rijswijk and Delft we still find a buffer zone: Rijswijk Zuid.
However, instead of being an ecologic, or recreational area, like most other buffer zones, this area has grown into a regional spill-over area. At present the area includes a hazardous material research site (biological and chemical development, explosives and viral diseases), greenhouses, sewage facilities, community gardens, residential and parkland (formerly a garbage dump).

Starting in the mid 1990‘s, the Dutch Government set new standards for safety, resulting in the necessary relocation of the hazmat research facility. Apart from that the greenhouses have become too small from an economic point of view. Therefore based on the already changing functions in the area, the City of Rijswijk began the planning process in 2007. Several primary questions are related to this site: 1. Program – What new functions should the area contain given its location and assets? 2. Integration – How should this area relate to the proposed adjacent motorway and neighbouring City of Delft? 3. Urban Design – What form should the urban design take for this area? Typical polder morphology? 1950s  modernism? 1990s Vinex? New trends? 4. Geopolitical – Who do we engage with for the planning process?

The City consultants (TRPC and TAUW) provided a comprehensive existing conditions report prior to the UPAT meeting in Rijswijk. When the team assembled in Rijswijk, they met with various city officials for Rijswijk, The Hague and the neighboring City of Delft to discuss project opportunities and constraints. An extensive site visit and trips to related projects provided a visual context. The UPAT drafted three community design principles as a planning foundation:
. Preserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage
. Support a sustainable, healthy, safe and vibrant community
. Create a diverse, innovative and unique sense of place
The UPAT then divided into two groups to explore separate scenarios that addressed these principles from different approaches. The goal was to provide city officials with two differing perspectives that explore a wider range of options than a single plan. The historic Sion Monastery inspired one group. The other applied Mondriaan‘s artistic patterns based on the Dutch grid landscape.

“Sion Park” created a historic/urban design transect from the ancient monastery site to the contemporary community/transit centre with a series of parterres (formal gardens).  The “Mondriaan Tapestry” concept created a network of streets and canals matching the historic pattern set by the monastery. A traditional boulevard connects the monastery site with the community/transit centre. Both plans created balanced communities with residential, commercial, civic, and recreation uses. The UPAT prepared programs for both concepts as well as a series of elevations and site plans to illustrate the various concepts. The UPAT completed two distinct concept plans in a three-day charrette. After a team critique of the scenarios, the UPAT gave a presentation to the Rijswijk Mayor, Aldermen and other city officials at the City Hall. A follow-up presentation was given to representatives from The Hague and Delft. The discussions centered on inter-governmental collaboration, infrastructure concurrency, and sense of place.

The City is currently evaluating the scenarios, and will consider adopting some aspects of them in the future community design of Rijswijk Zuid. The UPAT provided the following benefits:  > Forum to explore new perspectives and innovative community design concepts > Specific recommendations for programming and urban design > Foundation to expand inter-governmental and public communication and collaboration.

For UPAT results please download the PDF.

Skip to toolbar