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HEMbrug: industrial heritage & large woodlands in Zaandam

Hembrug terrein Zaandam

In Zaandam, only 6 km from Amsterdam as the crow flies (and as a ferry floats), there’s a remarkable terrain. It is called the HEMbrug.

I was curious to visit it. So when I got an invitation for a special Instawalk, I went.

Hembrug terrein Zaandam

Why I was so curious? Well, because of:

Hembrug terrein Zaandam

Fact 1: this 42 hectare big terrain used to be a ‘secret’ military spot with a weapon and munition factory.

It is one of the more modern industrial culture spots in Zaandam.

From 1890 the Dutch government built a large factory and testing complex on the HEMbrug terrain to fabricate weapons, munitions, army tools and gas masks. There’s over 100 old buildings, of which 51 classified as monument.

Since the beginning of this century the place was dismantled and abandoned.

Around 2013 the redevelopment started. Now it’s a spot for artists, designers, lifestyle shops, offices and conceptual restaurants and will be even more vividly soon with a brewery in the former laboratory.

Hembrug terrein Zaandam

Rijksvastgoedbedrijf is a company from the Dutch government that has taken care of the first development and restoration of the monumental buildings. And clean some polluted grounds…

On the 1st of March of 2017 the terrain went ‘on the market’.

The intention is that a project developer will invest in the property to develop it further for housing and make it an even more interesting hub for citizens, entrepreneurs and visitors.

Hembrug terrein Zaandam

Fact 2: this terrain contains a large wood in the middle of an urban area.

You can’t imagine that till some years ago those woods were used to test bombs and bullets… That’s why they called it the Plofbos (freely translated by me as the Bangbush).

And because of those bomb testing activities, there have been built all kinds of sand walls and bunkers, to protect the nearby inhabitants against a possible big explosion. The bunkers provide a good hiding place for bats now.

There’s a lot of monumental trees and in the bushes animals and birds found a safe corner in a busy industrial and urban area.

In the north is the so called ‘clay wood’.

This extended forest has not been watched over for the last decades.

It houses impressive chestnut and even almond trees, various ferns, butterflies (fritillary, Argynnis aglaja), and there’s foxes and buzzards (saw 3 of those!) on the hunt – so probably there’s mice too…

It is important that this green lung stays, in the middle of the crowded Metropole Amsterdam.

Hembrug terrein ZaandamHembrug terrein Zaandam

The plan is to replant the forest floor and to dig out the water canals to encourage more wildlife.

Hembrug terrein Zaandam

Monumental building ‘Number 8’, the former head office that will now be restored and sold.

Hembrug terrein ZaandamHembrug terrein Zaandam

I was attending the #HEMbruginstawalk with @rijksvastgoednl. Green hunting in an old industrial area is fun!


Information about HEMbrug in Zaandam

Dirk van der Kooij
Chairs designed by Dirk van der Kooij who has his workshop over here.