Sample Analysis Paper on Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam

Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam


The famous Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek is also referred to, as Westergasfabriek, and it was a former gasworks factory situated in Amsterdam, Netherlands although it is presently a cultural venue. The architect is the renowned Kathryn Gustafson. Ideally, the huge obstacle in designing this reputable park was to transform a polluted site that contained a substantial number of various historic buildings into a new usable and significant place. Hence, this remarkable mission of transforming the park put this region on the map, as well as on peoples’ radar before finishing because it consisted of marvelous architectural planning and building. Notably, this also incorporated a huge diversity of interests and allowed for an extensive community oriented process. An incredible amount of patience was required although the project ultimately turned successful (Reeve and Marshall 1).

Master Plan

Francine Houben and Kathryn Gustafson both of Mecanoo Archicten Company did the master plan for the park. The plan was regarded as the “Changement” since it proposed a fantastic place that changed people as they moved through it at different times throughout the year. In essence, the park’s nature changes as a person moves from its west to east. It is worth noting that the more classical or ridged designs that a person encounters while moving in the park, the more freer and varied designs open up. The master plan combined different classical elements, which include meadows, orchards, and a strong central axis with a range of various native plantings and winding paths (Gustafson 1).

In addition, a strong structure is built using different detailing varieties. On the east of the park where the district offices are situated overlooks the formal city park’s design. The middle of this park consists of various references to 1960s and 1950s parks, and this is where the recreation space is located. The northwest end of the park consists of native plants, and the key focus here is primarily on the ecology and nature, which refers to the 1980s parks. Notably, the Westergasfabriek site is the most contemporary section, which ideally refers to nature and humanity confrontation as portrayed in the landscape of the park (Reeve and Marshall 2).

Most importantly, the park consists of four major clusters whereby each of these clusters is unique since they have different distinct feelings from one another. These four clusters include the Village, Kinderdorp, Spektakeldorp, and Cite des Arts. Thus, the Village refers to the group of various buildings that are between the Events Field and the Canal. The Village has a huge hall mainly for cafes, studios, shops, and events that are housed in the popular Purifier Building. The Regulator House hosts the Westergasfabriek BV offices while the Machine Building is where incidental leasing is done. The Metering Buildings are specifically for different public functions that include a kiosk (Reeve and Marshall 2).

On the other hand, the Spektakeldorp is also known as the “Spectacular Village” that is utilized for larger events. It consists of the Transformer and Gasholder Buildings. Notably, the Gasholder Building is the biggest indoor space on this particular site, and it is mostly utilized for theater, opera, as well as other performances. It is one of the attractive scenes for this site. Subsequently, the Kinderdorp is also referred to as the “Children’s Village” since it is specifically designated for children activities. In this particular area, there are two houses for supervisors. The fourth cluster is the Cite des Arts, which is the farthest area of the park to the West, and it contains new buildings. The majority of these new buildings are mostly offices allocated for cultural activities instead of display or performance spaces (Gustafson 1).

Historical Background

In 1883, the site and gasworks technical planner was Julius Pazzani that lived between 1841 and 1888. Subsequently, the designer of the buildings was Isaac Gosschalk, who was an Amsterdam’s architect. The majority of the buildings that Isaac designed were primarily Dutch Neo-Renaissance style. In particular, the paramount element in all of his designs was symmetry. The buildings were made of light stone, as well as yellow and red bricks. Arcatures, ornamental eaves, and step gables adorned the facades (Reeve and Marshall 5).

On the same note, an expansion that was conducted between 1901 and 1905 eventually restored the design that Gosschalk intended. Over duration of time, the buildings were evidently torn down, and this included an old water tower. In 1989, the original buildings’ thirteen units were protected, and the old gasholder building in 1963 started being utilized as a storage space (Reeve and Marshall 5).

In addition, a new development plan in 1996 suggested that the old buildings should be restored, and this approach placed a historical value since it was its major concern. Hence, this approach was largely a conservative perspective. Specifically, Francine Houben from the Mecanoo Architects was called in to design the master plan, as well as the plan for renovating the existing buildings and new buildings design. The objective for this motive was the creation of an easy flow between the outside and inside including integrating the park usage harmoniously. Most importantly, it was integral that the initial usage of the renovated buildings be ostensible although they were not supposed to be restored perfectly since they had to retain their original state. Ideally, Braaksma & Roos were hired to conduct the restorative job. The Machine Building, Regulator House, GasHolder, Transformer Building, and Purifier Building were all renovated (Reeve and Marshall 5).

Design Process

It is paramount to note that the Westergasfabriek was specifically designed to create an innovative cultural space that would be open to the public. Initially, the site was a gasworks factory that the BICGA (British Imperial Continental Gas Association) had constructed in 1883. In the 1960s, the site was abandoned after natural gas was discovered and the buildings were utilized as garage and storage spaces up to the early 1990s. Since the buildings were still standing in 1989, they were marked and regarded as industrial monuments, and they started being utilized as cultural activities spaces mainly on a temporary basis (Reeve and Marshall 6).

Evidently, this program became successful, and the park was transformed into a permanent cultural center. The creation of a development plan was done in 1996, and the official opening of the park was conducted in 2003. The park offered the space for various purposes such as shops, galleries, performances, festivals, and community dinners. Currently, there are numerous spaces, which are for both short and long-term rental that allow for flexibility in their usage (Gustafson 1).

Previous Developments

The establishment of the original park was done in 1891 where it served the quite working class people in the Amsterdam region. The factory that the BICGA had built in 1883 was situated behind the park, and it was decided that both the defunct factory and the park should be combined to build a magnificent park that conserved its heritage. This action was undertaken in the 1960s when natural as resources were discovered in the North Sea and the factory was eventually abandoned since it had become obsolete. The buildings were saved from demolition, and the aesthetical values started to change. Thus, the old city’s installations began to look original while their architecture started to be valued significantly. The entire region of the municipal water and gas installations were remodeled, as well as trees were planted. Notably, Westergasfabriek in 2003 was opened officially to the public (Amsterdam Guide 1).

In the same suit, the cleanup process involved the utilization of the Isolation-plus Vairant method, which consisted of cleaning up the entire polluted site. Hence, this meant that the polluted ground water was supposed to be isolated although not covered in asphalt. Rather, layers of cloth, as well as a “living layer” that contained clean soil were needed to cover the polluted ground within a meter deep. Generally, approximately 34,000 square meters of clean soil were utilized including over 64,500 square meters of geotextile was utilized to cover the entire polluted site (Reeve and Marshall 6).

Present Developments

This park has tremendously grown into a huge green area that comprises of an events stage, an exhibition space, a cinema, and a theater. It bears its proud name of “Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek” (Culture Park Western Gas Factory). Remarkably, what was initially a small neighborhood park in the 19th century has been gradually combined with the huge region of the non-operational municipal gas installations. The municipal’s huge building divides the park into two key parts, which are the new, and the old one. There is also a long rectangular swimming pool for children where they can enjoy themselves on a warm sunny day. The park also contains some few bronze sculptures, as well as lots of green grass, which create an experimental suburbia for recreation activities (Amsterdam Guide 1).

According to Gustafson (1), the work conducted in the park was engaging, distinctive, and original. Additionally, the landform of the park involved innovative designs that manipulated the ground plane so that it could create ramps and steps, as well as level changes, which meticulously change as a person experiences them. Thus, the sensual landforms evidently define space in a unique sculptural manner. The water in the park is purified, processed, and stored and the landscape designs have been designed to enrich the park’s sensory experience with this water. This expresses changes in the water levels and invites people to engage in water activities. This includes the utilization of splashing fountains and reflective rainwater pools in the park.


In summation, the popular Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek is also known as Westergasfabriek, which was a former gasworks factory situated in Amsterdam, Netherlands but it is currently a cultural venue that hosts many events. The architect of this magnificent park is the distinguished Kathryn Gustafson. According to Gustafson, the biggest obstacle when designing this famous park was to transform a polluted site that comprised of some varied historical buildings into a new usable and significant place. Thus, their exceptional mission of changing the polluted park put this region on the map including other peoples’ radar before its completion since it entailed stunning architectural planning and building. In essence, this venture also incorporated a wide diversity of different interests, and it involved a widespread community oriented process. The park currently attracts many visitors for recreation and learning purposes.


Works Citied

Amsterdam Guide. Westerpark in Amsterdam. Amsterdam Guide, 2016. Web. 2nd June 2016. < >

Gustafson Porter. Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek. Gustafson Porter, n.d. Web. 2nd June 2016. < >

Reeve, Julia and Marshall, Sarah. Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Washington Education PDF. Web. 2nd June 2016. < >