- « The Commons, human, cultural, and natural resources are shared between all of us. »The Commons Project, The Hague
The striking triangular Tower was built in 1969 by architect J.J.P. Oud as the first skyscraper of The Hague. In 2013 it had been vacant for many years and was mainly functioning as a source of electricity for seven surrounding institutions in the international zone of The Hague, clearly not living up to its full potential. The commons project targeted the Toren van Oud as a special location for a common plan: a contemporary commons.
As part of the Commons Project, Henriette Waal negotiated a 4 months user agreement with Haag Wonen, the owner of the tower, and obtained the keys. During this period of temporary use, Waal realized a series of Vacancy safaris – adventurous interventions to get to know the tower – intended to spark a renewed sense of responsibility for this building, one that was both loved and neglected. Waal invited representatives of the surrounding organizations to join and former tower technicians became tour guides. One safari was a cleaning ritual with local cleaners. In a second safari, Waal worked with sound artist Gosse de Kort and hobo player Marije Clemens, on a composition for the metal chimneys of the tower, giving the tower itself a voice. At the same safari but on another level of the tower, Waal had the grandson of the architect Oud (performed by actor Bart van Ree) tell a personal story in an emotional speech. The safari’s engaged the tower’s neighbors in a dialogue on what the tower meant to them, opening up new future possibilities and destinations for this monumental landmark.
Besides the Vacancy safaris, a wooden platform in the shape of the tower’s footprint was designed and placed in the garden of the Kunstmuseum, right next to the tower. Several Tower jam sessions facilitated knowledge enhancement and exchange regarding the commons theme. Key experts were invited for lectures, guided discussions, and playful workshops.
The Commons project resulted in a proposal to realize a commons in the present time and a project plan for the common use and management of the tower. The final plan of the project has not been realized as commons. However, The Tower has since been restored and taken into use by new residents.