design & build

8 living-work spaces in industrial national monument

A special transformation is taking place on a monumental enclave of former barracks, workplaces and ammunition storage at the Hembrug terrain in Zaanstad. Initiated by a group of inspiring creatives, the century-old A11 workshop, originally used for weapons repair, is undergoing a conversion into a building that combines residences and workspaces for 8 households. This transformation honors the building’s historical scars, which have accumulated over the past century. In the renovation the preservation of valuable architectural details is prioritized, embracing the scars, such as stepped corners, overhead bars above windows and curbstones beneath. These show the history of the building and its changes trough the years. Only the structurally necessary wil be repaired. Perfection is not the goal, new additions are introduced in a supplementary layer, carefully integrated without overshadowing the existing architectural qualities. The interventions are aimed to maintain the building’s integrity as a whole.

“Additions form a new layer, without overpowering the current qualities. The interventions are aimed to maintain the building’s integrity as a whole.” 

Certain elements, like the window frames, had to be replaced, but even in these cases, the replacements are designed to possess their own aesthetic, strength, and modernity. This showcases a new, distinguishable layer with its own identity, while remaining subservient to the building as a whole. Not immediately apparent from the exterior, is the fact that the building originally consisted of three separate workshops. It isn’t readily visible that behind one façade, there were several distinct spaces, which will soon be converted into eight living and working areas. The open space will feature new bio-based interior structures, with an eye for acoustics and details. The new interior walls are designed to maintain the symmetry and rhythm of the building’s openings, ensuring the original structure to remain discernible. The central hall will be transformed into an open patio, preserving the original framework. This collective central outdoor space will both separate and connect the living area in one side building with the work area on the opposite side.

The most significant transformation occurs within the core of the renovated structure. Each new resident will have the freedom to configure their living space within the rejuvenated shell. This layout allows for a flexible floor plan and encourages individual choices, while respecting the collective essence of the building. Thanks to the future residents’ diverse backgrounds and interests, the workspace’s heritage will not be entirely lost. Instead, it will evolve to accommodate the practice of contemporary crafts. The office of bureau SLA will move in the last quarter of 2024 to one of the workspaces in A11.

facts & figures

design: bureau SLA
client: Vereniging A11
constructive advisor: NAP ingenieurs, Amsterdam
advisor building physics / sound: Blonk Advies, Amsterdam
advisor installations: studio ECO, Veenendaal
advisor building costs: Target bouwkostenadvies, Amsterdam
main contractor: BV Intersell, Naarden
realisation: Van Zanten Bouw, Vlaardingen
location: Wagenmakerij 1, 1506 PM Zaandam
program: 8 living / workspaces
surface: ca. 2.500 m2 GFA
start design: 2019
realisation: 2024
years of construction: 1916 – 1921
original program: Artillery equipment:
gun repair workshop, metalworking shop and paint spraying shop