Gradually the Hembrug site is coming to life again. After years of dilapidation and stagnation, the first sections have been put into use once more. We have been commissioned by the Central Government Real Estate Agency and the Zaanstad municipality to work on the redesign of this enormous former military complex near Amsterdam. By carefully reusing paving materials available on site, felling and pruning overgrown greenery and a series of targeted adaptations to the access structure, the historical qualities are coming into full prominence again. The renovation of the monumental buildings will contribute to the creation of a unique domain that offers excellent opportunities for new construction, diverse forms of activity and various festivals and events.
The Hembrug site constitutes a unique green enclave in the middle of the industrialised strip along the North Sea Canal and the Zaan River. It was once the military and logistic centre of the Defence Line of Amsterdam. A hundred years of history left its mark on the area. Following the army’s departure the site started to decline. Now, after a period of deterioration, the site is being prepared for new élan and liveliness. The opening of its first part in 2014 has made this development gain momentum.
Such an area, which is developing with unpredictable dynamism, requires a clever dual strategy operating at two speeds. In the very short term small sections of the site simply have to be made ready for use: they have to be accessible, there have to be sufficient parking spaces, the undergrowth has to be lopped, buildings renovated and rented. The long term requires a vision for the spatial conditions and the conditions to set up businesses. Therefore, we are working both on a concrete design for the public space (streets, lampposts, edgings) and a more abstract visual quality plan.