United States Embassy, Helsinki: Landscape Design
The new United States Embassy in the Netherlands, located between the cities of Wassenaar and The Hague, opened in January 2018. The site planning and design integrates the new embassy compound into the historic landscape setting along N44, the main approach into The Hague that is lined with country estates including the 17th Century Huis Ten Bosch – the Dutch Royal Palace.
The foreground of the new office building is designed as a landscape with filtered views from N44 over a storm water pond similar to the nearby country estates. The pond is connected to the larger canal system of Wassenaar and serves as irrigation supply for the campus. The geometric entrance plaza abuts the pond to create an architectural edge as a counterpoint to the curvilinear geometry of the pond.
Access to the compound is provided through a pavilion set back from a secondary street bordering the site. The entry sequence was designed to capture views toward the embassy entry, flag, and entrance plaza. A staff garden flanks the entry drive on one side, while a flexible lawn area bordering the pond provides a usable space for events held within the compound. The materials and paving patterns used on the site were derived from practices and precedents in the region.
Perimeter security is integrated into the landscape composition. Perimeter fencing is set back and curved to respond to view corridors into the site from the N44 and allows for planting to further disguise the perimeter security. Views to the new embassy building are framed by tree planting along the perimeter.
The Architecture and Engineering (A/E) team worked closely with the United States Department of State Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) and the City of Wassenaar to complete a thorough Tree Assessment Survey for the site. Trees that were documented to be healthy, native or adapted, and suitable for relocation on the site were transplanted, while trees that were slated for removal were replaced per conditions outlined by the City of Wassenaar. The architectural and site design were reviewed and refined during workshops with Wassenaar’s ‘Beautification Committee’.
A wide range of plant material was specified for the site which takes advantage of the Netherlands’ mature horticultural industry. Trees, shrubs, vines, perennial groundcovers and flowers, as well as ornamental grasses native to Northern and Western Europe were selected. Resilient tree species were identified that will mature and blend appropriately with the surrounding landscape context over time. The herbaceous planting scheme was developed to include four-season interest, vigorous growth habit and simple maintenance.
For more information contact Alan Ward.