Completed in 1885, the Imperial Continental Gas Association took advantage of the location’s proximity to waterways on the outskirts of central Amsterdam, the rail network and roads to build the Westergasfabriek, or Western Gas Factory, which supplied gas for street lamps.  In the 1960s, when large reserves of natural gas were discovered in the Netherlands, coal gas plants were shuttered, and Westergasfabriek closed its doors in 1967.  As the soil was contaminated with toxins such as tar, cyanide and asbestos, finding an alternative use for the site proved very difficult.


Artists and entrepreneurs began to move into the old buildings, which led to a vision to transform the polluted site into a recreational and cultural space.  Becoming a reality in the mid 2000s, the site underwent a major clean-up, the Dutch Renaissance-style buildings were restored, and even gas holding tanks were repurposed as water gardens. 


Westergasfabriek covers an area of 13 hectares, and encompasses leisure and ecology features.  A promenade flows from a formal urban plaza at one end to an open, natural space at the other.  It flows through walking and bicycle trails, gardens, a playground, a waterfall, a bridge, and an artificial lake that can be drained to accommodate festivals.  An open-air events field seats 10,000 people, hosting concerts and festivals, and is surrounded by markets, restaurants, a theatre, dance studio, food laboratory and galleries, which are housed in the renovated gas buildings. 




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