Out of Focus
Like the Monument to Dr. Willem Drees, the Constitution Bench at Hofplaats has not been accessible since 2021. The area where the bench is located is temporarily in use as a workspace and storage area for construction materials for the renovation of the Lower House and the Binnenhof. There is a fence around the entire area. Originally, the plan was to "free" the Constitution Bench from the fences once the renovation is complete. However, on Jan. 17, 2023, Article 1 of the Constitution was expanded to include non-discrimination against disability and sexual orientation. That means the monument cannot return in the same state, as the bench features the text of the now obsolete Article 1. Involved parties are considering possible alternatives.
lengte 45 m
Hofplaats, Den Haag
52.078602812265, 4.312857187172 View on map
A substantial work of art': that was to be erected in front of the new parliament building. The new accommodation for the Lower House was opened in 1992. Architect Pi de Bruijn was responsible for the design. Apart from the usual percentage arrangements, the then Minister of Culture, Hedy d'Ancona, took the initiative for a special work of art outside: a monument to democracy. At the suggestion of adviser Rudi Fuchs, then director of The Hague's Gemeentemuseum, the internationally renowned Greek-Italian artist Jannis Kounellis (1936) had made a design: a cast-iron pedestal with texts from the Constitution and a basket of coal on top. In the explanatory letter from the minister to the House of Representatives, it read: "The pedestal ... bears no rider, angel or other symbol of power granted by heaven, but a heap of petrified energy dug up from the earth. Democracy is the work of man ...'.
Kounellis' 'coal pit', as it was called by opponents, caused tempers to flare up to such an extent that the Lower House voted against it. Ultimately, architect De Bruijn provided a solution. He designed a low, 45-metre-long, natural stone bench on the triangular square in front of the Lower House on the Hofweg side. The long sides of the bench feature the text of Article 1 of the Constitution:
All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal cases. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race, gender or any other grounds whatsoever is not permitted'.