Vrouw Avenweg, Den Haag
52.057050444289, 4.4073870530946 View on map
High on a green mound stands a small, austere white chapel. The clock in the tower echoes the time in its own way. Like an icon in the landscape, the building attracts your attention: you have to go there. Once up there, you discover that you cannot go in at all and that, moreover, the structure turns out to be much smaller than it looked. At the same time, you are amazed at its location: towering over everything and wedged between the RandstadRail tracks, motorways and the Vinex district of Leidschenveen.
The little chapel on the mound was designed by Laurens Kolks and Dennis Lohuis. Stroom Den Haag approached these designers from the Eindhoven Design Academy for an art commission on the strip of polluted land on the edge of this new housing estate. These designers are concerned with the manufacturability of the spatial experience and the interaction between man, object and activity.
Mounds are part of the Dutch landscape. For centuries, the Dutch have tried to protect themselves from floods and attacks by erecting such mounds. As in the past, the designers placed a church on the mound in Leidschenveen as a beacon. There is no religious sign. In the past, a village grew up around a church. In Leidschenveen, the new district slowly grew towards it. Besides being a beacon, the mound with the church also serves as a noise barrier. In this way, art, architecture and landscape design merge into a miniature version of the modern Netherlands: in the midst of all kinds of transport, polluted ground is covered with an idyllic little church, around which a new, contemporary village is built.
What is striking about this work of art is the optical illusion. Because of the height of the mound, the distance created by the hill and the use of white stucco instead of brick, there is no indication of size. There are also no signs of size in the surroundings: not a lamppost, bench or rubbish bin to be seen. Even the double church door puts you on the wrong track. Although only 1.80 m high, it suggests a wide church door.