Every resident of The Hague visited the Binckhorst industrial district at some point for a second-hand car, the car wash, or a new exhaust pipe. The Binckhorst used to be the Mecca of cars and car wrecks, full of scrap yards, showrooms and garages. But there was much more below the surface. For a century, the district grew as a dumping ground for anything and anyone who was no longer welcome in the regent city of The Hague. From whore houses, gypsy cemeteries, boat homes, to air force bunkers, illegal churches, and garbage recycle centres.
In 2005, De Binckhorst was about to undergo radical changes. The site is close to the old city centre and the municipality wanted to transform the area into upmarket offices and residential towers. Previous residents and entrepreneurs were pushed out, which meant that the last free zone of The Hague was disappearing. Dismantling free zones such as De Binckhorst is fatal for the intricate social network of the city where rich and poor meet for hobbies, repairs, innovation and rendezvous. This kind of social capital is invisible and cannot be expressed in any monetary value.
Charm campaign “Binck!”
Smets designed the charm campaign “Binck!” to highlight this social capital. In collaboration with art in public space institute Stroom Den Haag he set up a year-long program full of excursions, workshops, exhibitions and network meetings, culminating in a large public manifestation on Saturday September 17, 2005. On that day, visitors would visit all companies and wastelands under the guidance of experts or locals. An amusement park train ran through the neighbourhood, and the glossy magazine Binck! was presented. Binck! became (and still is) a brand promoting the Binckhorst as a unique freezone in the city.
Publication Binck! The best kept secret of The Hague
The glossy magazine “Binck!” portrayed the Binckhorst in a time frame of one year. A team of experts mapped the area gathering personal stories, reading the scars in the landscape, reviewing the quality of food stalls and unravelled what was happening behind closed doors. Binck! became a unique record of the neighbourhood in 2005 and is a plea for a freezone in every city; since it serves as the city’s lungs.
Location Binckhorst, Den Haag
Commisioned by Stroom H.C.B.K.
Funding Gemeente Den Haag, Stimuleringsfonds voor Architectuur
Sponsor Delta Hage
In collaboration with
Magazine editoral board: Tijs van den Boomen, Cassandra Wilkens,
Manifestation editoral board: Qenep, Jan Wijle, Melle Smets
Graphic Design: Pier Taylor
Production: Saskia Hamel
Event design: Jan Körbes & Denis Oudendijk
Guided tours: Willem Marijs, Jan Brouwer, Louis Kanneworff, Filip Mens / BNA Haaglanden, Gerdien Blankenstein
Mascotte: Els Roseboom
Special thanks AVR, Bedrijvenvereniging BLF, Europcar, gemeente Den Haag (DSO en DSB Straten & Vegen), HTM Infra, Lindblom public relations-public affairs, Maison Kelder, Meeuwisse Nederland BV, Medisch Centrum Scheveningen, Michael Mellema, Nadorp Makelaars, Sionkerk, Smart Center, Els Roseboom en vele anderen.