Hembrug location

Exciting relation between history and modern-day urbanism

What was once the epicentre of the Dutch weapons industry is being transformed into a lively residential and business area. Our design for the public space and the woodland will make the location green, more climate-resistant and better connected than ever, with respect for the unique atmosphere and history of the setting. We are designing a hydrological system with sufficient capacity to retain and store the rain that falls on the location. The green surroundings are collective and adventurous, with the woodland as the green heart.




Hembrug Zaandam BV (ABC Planontwikkeling, L.I.F.E. nv)


BURA urbanism, Venhoeven CS, GROUP A, Goudappel Coffeng, Bouwfysica

Surface Area

42 ha

Design Year




Hembrug in Zaandam has always been an exciting and rough terrain. Military experiments and tests were carried out here in the twentieth century that were of importance to the nation. That is why Hembrug was closed. You never knew exactly what went on there. That is going to change now the location finds itself in the middle of the transformation from a closed area to a terrific new location for work, housing, recreation and culture – wonderful industrial heritage in the middle of woodland and green squares, situated on the waterfront of the North Sea Canal and the Zaan river. The striking contrasts make it a permanently exciting situation, an industrial estate with all kinds of things to discover and to experience.

Around a thousand homes and a mixed programme of creative industry, offices, shops and a museum will be built on 42 hectares of land. Residents and entrepreneurs are involved in the plans, for example in drawing up the master plan. The built and landscape heritage provides the guidelines for the urban development plan, the landscape vision and the layout of the terrain. We are working with a design team led by BURA urbanism together with Venhoeven CS, GROUP A, Goudappel Coffeng and Bouwfysica and the Zaanstad local authority.

The level of ambition of the principal Hembrug B.V. is unusually high. It is not just about spatial quality, but also about ecology, climate adaptation and hydrology. Not a single building will be demolished and a new tree will be planted to replace each one that has to be removed.

Our design pays particular attention to a hydrological system with sufficient capacity to retain and store the rain that falls on the location. The green surroundings are collective, close by and accessible for everyone. The woodland will shortly become the green heart of the development. An important structural line in the area that is no longer intact today is the disappeared railway line. This structure is given a prominent role in our designs and will connect the different zones with one another and with the rest of Zaanstad.

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