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The Hague

Architects: Hans van Heeswijk Architecten // Project size: 6.500 m² GFA // Completion: 2014 // Awards: Foundation Project of the Year 2014, Gulden Feniks Award 2015 - Renovation, Project Excellence Award 2015 (IPMA) - Best Project Management Netherlands // Sustainability certification: BREEAM Very Good

The Mauritshaus, with its internationally most important collection of Dutch masters, is one of the most important tourist attractions in The Hague. Commissioned by the Koninklijk Kabinet van Schilderijen Mauritshuis Den Haag Foundation, Hans van Heeswijk Architecten created an intricate underground connection between the Mauritshaus and the building opposite, thus doubling the museum's space.

The museum is located in the historic city centre, which also has an important political and representative function, because after all, the office of the Prime Minister of the Netherlands - the Torentje - is in the immediate vicinity.

The construction of the connection between the underground foyer and the adjacent building was a complex and spectacular undertaking. ABT, responsible for the structural design and contractor Volker Staal en Funderingen, used numerous complex techniques. A Cutter Soil Mixing method (CSM) was used for the walls: The existing soil was mixed with water and cement to form a soil-cement mortar to create a dirt- and water-resistant wall. Other innovations included jet injection columns, soft gel mixes, fibre-reinforced underwater concrete and jacking techniques.

The extensive and complex underground works were carried out without damaging or lowering the surrounding listed buildings. This shows that, provided they are carried out in a well-prepared and careful manner, underground structures can offer attractive and safe solutions to spatial problems in sensitive environments.


A glass lift takes visitors from the forecourt to the underground foyer. Due to the monumental character of the Mauritshaus, the client had requested an "invisible" lift. Hans van Heeswijk Architecten designed the lift, but wondered whether this was feasible. ABT then created a 3D structural model to investigate this. By modelling the connections in this model, ABT concluded that a glass lift was indeed feasible. Octatube and Mitsubishi were responsible for the implementation.

Within the structural design team, ABT took care of the structural and geotechnical design of the refurbishment and the new construction part. Only proven, vibration-free and low-noise techniques were used. During execution, the impact on the buildings in the immediate vicinity was continuously monitored by a monitoring system. During the construction phase, ABT was also used for management and monitoring.

Scope of services: Structural engineering, glass engineering, refurbishment, geotechnical engineering

Photos: Luuk Kramer

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