The International Criminal Court

The Hague/ The Netherlands

Size/ 54,500 m²
Competition/ 2008 – 2010, won in restricted international competition
Status/ Completed in 2015
Client/ The International Criminal Court
Landscape architect/ SLA
Engineer/ Royal Haskoning/ Esbensen Consulting Engineers (in competition stage)
Interior design and Art/ Bosch & Fjord/ Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
Project Management/ Brink Groep
Contractor/ Courtys
Photo/ Hufton+Crow/ Adam Mørk

When designing the permanent premises of the International Criminal Court, the aim was to communicate trust, hope and – most importantly – faith in justice and fairness. The building requires the courage to be an ambassador for the credibility and values of the ICC. The project and its architecture are impressive and grand in scale but always relate to humans and the human scale. It is important that a formal institution like the ICC does not constitute barriers for people. On the contrary, it expresses the very essence of democratic architecture.

By designing a compact building with a small footprint, the landscape is returned to the city so that the open spaces, sky and horizon become an integrated part of the architectural composition. The building is designed as a sculptural abstraction, – a composition of six volumes, firmly anchored to the site and rising from the surrounding dune landscape.

The tallest of the volumes, the Court Tower, rises up as a green element. The architectural idea is to cultivate the parterre gardens from the ground floor level, as a cladding on the Court Tower.

Historically, gardens have always existed as part of all cultures and all religions. With flowers and plants representing more than 120 member countries, the parterre garden rises up as a symbol of unity, regardless of nationality and culture.

Inside, wide courtrooms fulfill ICC's mandate in the fight against impunity for perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The international institution also has rooms for media and relatives who can follow the different cases, symbolizing the trust and the transparency this court building requires.

The entrance is enriched with a wooden sculpture by Danish artist Eske Rex which blends with the lightness and simplicity of the architectural design, bearing a distinctive Danish imprint.

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