Binckhorst: A Palimpsest of Architectural Lives

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Engaging the example of the course “Binckhorst: A Palimpsest of Architectural Lives”—a master level design studio—this paper addresses issues of cohabitation and coexistence between past and current actors, activities and programs in Binckhorst, The Hague. It discusses explorative methodologies of analysis and design, that aim to create innovative and anchored urban interventions for the transformation of post-industrial landscapes. Binckhorst is an exemplary case-study to this regard. Home to a 14th century Castle, a 1920s cemetery, 1950s-60s heavy industry buildings and empty offices, postmodern housing projects and contemporary refugee settlements, it currently witnesses an accelerated change. Small-scale creative industries, event venues and apartment buildings transform and redefine its architectural identity. Moreover, Binckhorst’s strategic location next to the city’s center and a major train station, has attracted the interest of local and international architects, planners and developers.

The course “Binckhorst: A Palimpsest of Architectural Lives” engages the students with this rich context and guides them to develop design methods where the old and the new can be actively part of the area’s new blooming. Through innovative site analysis assignments, personal interactions with the area’s actual actors, careful and in-depth study of the Binckhorst’s heritage, a precise selection of The Hague housing typologies, and the employment of bottom-up design methodologies, the studio advocates for a pedagogical approach in which the knowledge acquired from the analysis informs every step in the design process. The studio follows a structured sequence of three phases: “Description,” “Transcription,” “Prescription” (Havik, 2014) ensuring the constant interweaving between analysis and design. It culminates in a big-scale housing project that needs to incorporate the area’s past and present layers and suggest architectural propositions that envision a future for the co-existence between the old and the new.

A thorough presentation of the studio’s theoretical context, the methodological framework, the topics and parameters of investigation along with selected student’s examples, will unpack in detail the pedagogical topics addressed by this studio and suggest possible courses of action for architectural education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEAAE-ARCC International Conference & 2nd VIBRArch
Subtitle of host publicationThe Architect and the City
PublisherEditorial Universitat Politecnica de Valencia
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)978-84-9048-981-9
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventEAAE-ARCC | INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE & 2nd Valencia International Biennial of Research in Architecture | VIBRArch : The Architect and the City - ETSA-UPV , Valencia, Spain
Duration: 11 Nov 202014 Nov 2020


ConferenceEAAE-ARCC | INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE & 2nd Valencia International Biennial of Research in Architecture | VIBRArch
Internet address


  • Post-industrial landscape
  • typology
  • lived space
  • urban analysis
  • urban literacy


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