Yona Friedman | Ville Spatiale in Binckhorst

There is currently an exhibition at Stroom Den Haag in The Hague called “Up to You” which shows the work of architect Yona Friedman, designer Thomas Lommée and artist Navid Nuur. The exhibition is really interesting, focusing on how human behaviour allows insecurity to enter the design process, creating a sense of freedom.

But we want to focus on Yona Friedman’s proposal for the Binckhorst, an industrial area in The Hague. The Binckhorst is a business area in Den Haag [on the border with Voorburg]. It covers an area of approx 130 ha and hosts approximately 260 companies. Friedman has been working on the concept of Ville spatiale since the early 60s. “The traditional structure of the city”, according to Friedman, “is not equipped for the new society. He suggested mobile, temporary and lightweight structures instead of the rigid, inflexible and expensive means of traditional architecture.”

Now, he applies these theories and guidelines to a project for Binckhorst:


Binckhorst and the Hague in 1750.

The design statements pointed that the auto-related and industrial activities in Binckhorst should be largely replaced by housing, offices, public facilities and a park. That means a lot to begin demolition of existing buildings and Outplacement and businesses. Friedman proposes an experiment that could lead to a future picture of the Binckhorst as proposed by residents. The Ville Spatiale demolition is not necessary: the new city can be built directly over the existing.

Same principles from the original Ville Spatiale can be found here, as described by Friedman in Architecture Mobile [1960]

Critical for the Ville Spatial is what I call ‘spatial infrastructure’: a multi-storey space-frame-grid, which is supported by widely-spaced piles […]. This infrastructure forms the fixed element of the city. The mobile element consists of walls, base-surfaces and dividing walls which make the individual division of the space possible; it could be called the ‘filling’for the infrastructure. All elements which come into direct contact with the users (i.e. those they see, touch etc.) are mobile, in contrast to the infrastructure, which is used collectively and remains fixed.

Let’s end with the fascinating way that has Friedman to talk about his work:

In the late fifties and in the sixties I was regarded by some people as a utopian. But I see myself as a realist. In all of my work I have been trying to demonstrate that everything people experience as utopian can actually be realized. So I see my role as that of someone who passes on ideas to reflect on. To make people think. And when I succeed I’m very happy!

Yona Friedman in the documentary Erratic City, 1997/1998

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Note: Most of these images were sent by Yona Friedman to Stroom Den Haag via fax, when they requested the material about Binckhorst for the exhibition.


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