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 workspace, originally used for weapons repair, is undergoing a conversion into a mixed residential and working structure. This transformation honors the building’s historical scars, which have accumulated over the past century. The renovation approach prioritizes the preservation of valuable architectural details, embraces the scars, such as the stepped corners, the overhead bars above the windows, and the roller layer beneath. This shows the history of the building and the changes true the years. Only the structurally necessary wil be repaired. New additions are introduced as a supplementary layer, carefully integrated without overshadowing the existing architectural qualities. The interventions aim to maintain the building’s integrity. The goal is not perfection.

Certain elements, like the window frames, must 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 greater whole. Not immediately apparent from the exterior is the fact that the building originally consisted of three separate sheds. 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 partition walls designed to maintain the symmetry and rhythm of the building’s openings, ensuring the original structure remains discernible. The central hall will be transformed into a patio, preserving the original framework.

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.

client: Vereniging A11
design: 2020
version: 2023
surface: approx. 2,500 m2 GFA