Schmidt Hammer Lassen complete the International Criminal Court

Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s design for the International Criminal Court. Different sized block shaped buildings with trees in front of them.
Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s design for the International Criminal Court in The Hague beat 170 other applications to win a global design competition back in 2010. Now, the complex is ready to open its doors
(Image credit: Hufton + Crow)

Five years after Schmidt Hammer Lassen (SHL) beat 170 other applications to win a global design competition in 2010, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to move into their newly completed permanent premises in The Hague. The Danish firm's design was selected for its response to a somewhat contradictory set of goals and values: to be grand and formal enough to instill a sense of respect in the court and faith in the justice process as a whole, yet also able to communicate trust, transparency and hope; and to create an 'open' building that was physically welcoming while meeting some of the world's most stringent security measures.

Providing 54,000 sq m of floor space across six buildings, the site is connected by a first floor that spans the entire length of all six buildings, tying them together from the inside and out. Five office towers provide work areas for up to 1,200 staff, while the distinctive green wall façade of the central tower is home to three court rooms, media briefing room, holding cells and various meeting rooms for judges, defendants, victims, witnesses and their families. Through a warren of hallways and doors, each party in a case has separate and secured access to each courtroom.

Each office tower is clad in angled and offset glass panels that reflect light in different ways, creating a patchwork effect or 'gridded tapestry' in SHL's parlance. A moat-style water feature provides required setback from street-level for security measures, while the striking, mirror-perfect reflection formed on the water's surface creates an approach to the building that's simultaneously striking and calming. Given the grave subject matter of many ICC hearings and the trauma that witnesses will often have been through, facilitating a positive psychology for its users was a fundamental design consideration, asserts SHL Project Director, Denis Olette.

Public areas include a viewing gallery area of courtrooms, along with café, exhibition space and two outdoor courtyard areas. Both SHL and the ICC are very eager to promote the court's new permanent home as a space that's open to all.

Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s design for the International Criminal Court. A block shaped building with a long walk way in front of it.

 The project needed to feel grand but also ’open’, as it is meant to symbolise trust, transparency and hope

(Image credit: Hufton + Crow)

Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s design for the International Criminal Court. A view of the block shaped buildings from a distance with a town in front of it.

The complex provides 54,000 sqm of floor space across six buildings

(Image credit: Hufton + Crow)

Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s design for the International Criminal Court. A view between two of the block shaped buildings with a bridge over water connecting them.

Five office towers provide work areas for up to 1200 staff...

(Image credit: Hufton + Crow)

Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s design for the International Criminal Court. A bridge over water leading to one of the block shaped buildings.

...while the scheme also allows ample space for three court rooms, a media briefing room, holding cells and various meeting rooms for judges, defendants, victims, witnesses and their families

(Image credit: Hufton + Crow)

Two images of Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s design for the International Criminal Court. Different angled pictures of the block shaped buildings with a body of water next to it.

Public areas include a viewing gallery area of courtrooms, along with café, exhibition space and two outdoor courtyard areas

(Image credit: Hufton + Crow)

INFORMATION

For more information on the architects visit the website (opens in new tab).

Photography: Hufton + Crow.