The Hague Accelerator

How can lessons learned from past transportation projects help plan a transit expansion that is inclusive and responsive to the people it serves?

Traveling to the Netherlands is like a guided tour of urban resilience in practice, with densely-clustered lively towns where sand engines replenish beaches and vast systems of canals, polders and dykes have been holding back the North Sea for a millennia. There are windmills, vertical farms, district geothermal, and bicycles everywhere.  Most of all, the efficiency of public transport in the Netherlands makes a trip across the country seem not much more than a trip across town.   

But resilience in practice is a constant process of learning  from the past and striving for improvement. It was in this spirit that Anne-Marie Hitipeuw, the CRO of The Hague, invited the Resilience Accelerator to guide a long-term plan for a new transit line from the center of The Hague to the Escamp neighborhood in the Southwest. This neighborhood was built after WWII as worker housing, but many of the original inhabitants moved to suburbs long ago. Today the neighborhood is largely comprised of recent immigrants who are much less wealthy, less educated and more socially isolated than the city as a whole.   

Anne-Marie and her colleagues took us to Escamp and introduced us to community leaders of all kinds: teachers, police, entrepreneurs, imams, priests, and artists. Over a community dinner, we learned about the problems behind closed doors--a pervasive sense of loneliness and a desire for greater community cohesion. Our question became, if the City makes this major investment in transportation, what will it do for the people here today? Transportation always brings more housing and more opportunities, but how will their interests be represented in that process?   

After our visit, we worked with GSAPP urban planning students to compile relevant case studies of recent transportation projects around the world. What were the successes and failures from various points of view? How did the project help urban mobility in general and how did it help the people most affected? We delivered these case studies to The Hague along with recommendations for how this new public investment could help to make both the City and the people of Escamp more resilient to the stresses that affect them both behind closed doors and traveling across town.  



The Hague - RA Workshop Report
Resilient Transportation Case Study Report



Thaddeus Pawlowski 

Gideon Finck



100 Resilient Cities

City of The Hague