Temporary Senate in The Hague

Happel Cornelisse Verhoeven architecten 

Although senates are, in general, bodies made up of elected citizens, they have not managed to shake off a certain elitist whiff. At least by etymology, the senex (the elders of the tribe) and the patricians, peers, and heroes congregate in them. Senates are, after all, the ‘upper chamber’ or ‘upper house’ of parliament. In Europe, the buildings housing them are often former royal, noble, or episcopal residences. However, the Upper House and Council of State of the Netherlands has taken a symbolic turn by moving its seat, in the course of an extensive restoration, from the palace of the Stadtholders to a nearby bourgeois mansion. With the 18th-century halls reserved for official events, the bulk of the institution is accommodated in an obsolete 1980s extension whose rooms have been polished with neutral finishes: wood paneling, striated surfaces, curtains, and carpets provisionally decking the plenary hall and its ancillary spaces, infusing them with a serene auctoritas.