Westergas is a colorful meeting point for culture in all its shapes and sizes. The historical site, built in 1880 as a gas factory, has been transformed into a lively, cultural village in the heart of Amsterdam. In this artistic haven, embraced by the green of the Westerpark, you can find a myriad of cultural expressions. From music and hospitality to theater and performance, from film and photography to art, dance events and even TV studios. This is a place where creativity, diversity and freedom are celebrated.
Westergas is where historical value and innovative ideas come together; a unique destination for local and international visitors, with a one of a kind, but at the same time unmistakably Amsterdam-like character. Seven unique locations are for rent on the site. From the iconic Gashouder for 3500 guests, to the charming Werkkamer for up to thirty guests.
Westergas is open seven days a week for anyone who enjoys culture in all its splendor.
Westergas is a meeting place for enterprising people. We offer spaces for creative, cultural and innovative entrepreneurs, who follow their dream with passion and commitment. It’s an adventurous environment, where inspiring collaborations arise. A melting pot where everyone contributes to the area.
We’re always on the lookout for new renters with inspiring ideas, please contact us through email@example.com
In 2018, Westergas changed owners; together with property business Millten, Duncan and Lisca Stutterheim bought the area. Since then, there’s a new wind blowing, with even more space for cultural endeavors and crossbreeding.
Duncan Stutterheim: “The main difference with the previous owners is that we’ll be developing more initiatives ourselves. We’ve transformed the MC Theater into the WestergasTheater, where we’ll be programming music nights and theatre performances. We’ve started the Meterhuisje Pop Up, where a new pop-up initiative will set up shop every three months, by young talent in several disciplines, like photography, fashion and events. And we’re also working on more experimental projects, like an audiovisual light show on our grounds, that can be visited for an entire month. Also, we’ll be partnering up with organizations who have good ideas for the area.
“We also hope to make the connection with the neighbors and the schools. This should be a place you decide to visit at any time, always finding something exciting to experience.”
Westergas and the Westerpark are a private-public collaboration. The public space is owned by the city of Amsterdam and the monumental buildings are private property of the organization Westergas. The result is a fruitful collaboration.
Westergas is a place where creativity flourishes and grows, and we intend to keep it like that in the future.
We are always busy advancing our change from brownfield to greenfield. As one of Amsterdam’s’ scarce green hearts it is only natural that we want to be as sustainable as possible. We strive to become a 100% green and sustainable park.
For example, we use one energy supplier for everyone on the premises. Furthermore, an energy supplier that helps us realize our green ambitions. It is not just our gas and electra that we want to be more sustainable.
We focus on all the events that are held here to make them greener and decrease their footprint. We also put our positive energy in enthusing others to follow our example.
Westergas has a rich and eventful history. The 22 industrial buildings that remained after the closing of the factory in 1967 have never undergone major changes in appearance. What has changed, is the way we look at them.
Nowadays, the former industrial site is a bustling/powerful cultural park. But it wasn’t always like that.
Before the arrival of coal gas in the Netherlands, people would light their houses with candles, grease lamps or oil lamps, and would get their heat from wood or peat. After the arrival of coal gas, the lighting in the Netherlands changed, gradually. Lighting the streets with coal gas was much cheaper than with oil, but this required the construction of extra factories.
This was also the case in Amsterdam. On July 23, 1883, the municipality gave the London Imperial Continental Gas Association exclusive rights to build two gas plants/factories in Amsterdam. These became known as the Wester and the Easter gas factory. The gas they produced was initially used for city lighting, and later for private use/individuals and businesses.
Pazzani and Gosschalk
The London Imperial Continental Gas Association sent Julius Pazzani (1841-1888) to Amsterdam to arrange the technical planning of the manufacturing process and the site itself. Pazzani successfully conducted all the difficult and delicate negotiations needed to ‘light up’ a city with 400.000 residents, meanwhile being exposed to the hostility of the old gas interest. After all, humans don’t always welcome change that easily.
The buildings are designed by architect Isaac Gosschalk (1838-1907). His style soon became known as the Dutch Neorenaissance. The buildings at the site were designed without all too many excesses (unlike for example the Rijksmuseum, which opened in the same year). The factories had to be especially suitable for their purpose: house machineries. Gosschalk said the following about his vision: ‘A building has style if it has a personality; if it expresses its true nature, unobtrusively.”
Extension and closure
The Wester and Easter gas factory were taken over by the municipality on August 10, 1898. In the following years, production increased. Major innovations and expansions were introduced, with the construction of a 100.000m3 gas holder at the Westergasfactory in 1903, and in 1904 a water gas factory (later known as the ‘Transformator’ building). The greatest advantage of a water installation – especially with sudden cold spells in Amsterdam – is that it can produce quickly in a short time. Gas production declined in the 1960’s, because the municipality obtained their gas from the furnaces at IJmuiden, and from 1963 onwards from the natural gas reserve at Slochteren. In 1967, gas production in the Netherlands stopped entirely.
Adventurers, entrepreneurs and artists discover the site
After the closing of the factory, Amsterdam was left with a heavily polluted site. Years of gas production had taken its toll. A new destination proved to be a difficult task. There was contamination, but there were also special ecological conditions.
The Municipal Energy Company (G.E.B.) first used the site as a storage and a work place. All the buildings unusable as storage were demolished. In the 1960’s, the appreciation of the industrial heritage was at an alltime low. But from the early 1990s, when the G.E.B. finally left the site, adventurous entrepreneurs and artists discovered the creative energy and infinite possibilities of this unique location. Westergas as a cultural heritage site slowly started taking shape. More and more cultural activities came to life – a new beginning, with culture as its driving force. The groundwork for the cultural village of today was laid during this era.
Since 2003, the site has been providing a new light and energy. The polluted soil has been cleaned, and a picturesque park has been laid out. Creative entrepreneurs have taken up shop in the renovated, historic buildings, and numerous events and festivals have settled there.
The past has brought us where we are now. We are the ones determining the present and the future – with sustainability, culture, relaxation and creativity. In 2019, the name of the buildings of the Wester gas factory was changed to Westergas. Same site, new energy.
Westergas is a place where people can enjoy themselves, become inspired and visit innovative events. We know that events can be very straining for our environment and we want to minimize that burden as much as possible. Together with partners and kindred spirits, we want to contribute to a righteous, sustainable world. You can read below about the things we are doing to achieve that goal.
Let’s start with the beginning; the heavily polluted Wester Gasfabriek, where at one point in time, coal was being produced for the city lighting of Amsterdam, has undergone an entire metamorphosis in 2003. Internationally, Westergas is seen as a reference point for sustainable redevelopment of industrial and monumental heritage.
Westergas is keen on completing this transformation from ‘old’ to ‘new,’ and making all the steps possible to realize an entirely sustainable area. Ensuring sustainability is harder for monuments than it is for new buildings. Because of the monumental status, the possibilities are more limited and costly. As part of the Pilot Ensuring Sustainability of State Monuments from the Ministery of Education, Culture & Science, we’ve taken on the challenge to make our beloved factory buildings as sustainable as possible, without tarnishing their monumental properties.
We are continuously working on the change from brownfield to greenfield. As one of Amsterdam’s green hearts, we want to be as sustainable as possible. Therefore, our goal is a 100% green and sustainable Westergas.
We are realizing our green ambitions with a new central energy supplier, investing extra positive energy in the events, and trying to invigorate and activate others with our green vision.
KEEPING IN GREEN
We’ve made the roof of the Gashouder available for neighbors to place solar panels. The electricity generated by the panels is redistributed to the net and settled with the owners of the panels. Coöperatie Ecostroom administrates the project. 1024 panels were placed on the roof in 2019.
Westergas has invested a lot in extra isolation and LED-lighting in the event locations. The result is worth it: the changeover to LED has reduced energy use by 65% in comparison to halogen lighting. The isolation of the buildings saves around 30%.
In 2019, we’re going to implement a sustainable waste plan for all the entrepreneurs and organizers at Westergas. We’re doing this in collaboration with Bureau 8080 and Cordaan. Cordaan (cordaan.nl) is a healthcare facility for everyone. Anyone who needs nursing, assistance and/or support for a short or long period – young and old. Cordaan lends a helping hand to anybody in need. In the Westerpark, Cordaan organizes daily activities for people with a mental disability. In the Mediacafé (the cafe of the TV studios of DWDD, Pauw and Jinek) a group works in hospitality. Another group helps maintenance at Westerpark to pick up trash from the entrepreneurs in the park. They pick it up with an electric kart provided by Westergas.
Starting in 2018, the Conscious Hotel Westerpark was opened in the former Borough Office. The hotel is 100% electrically powered – the first hotel in the Netherlands to work entirely without gas – and sustainable in energy (100% electrical, heat pumps) and materials. Also, the F&B of the hotel and restaurant are fully organic and, if possible, locally produced.
As an Amsterdam cultural institution, Westergas has been selected for sustainability advice from the Municipality of Amsterdam. Among other things, special attention is given to energy savings, waste, water, suppliers, catering and circular operational management. The advice is based on the feasibility of the measures. They also investigate sustainability trajectories and offer help where they can.
Westergas offers initiatives who stimulate sustainability with a platform where thet can be seen and heard. For example, the beehives by at the Gashouderponds. Or the for free drinkable water. And the reuse of the swimming pond water fort he park grass.
With our mission and vision, it makes sense for us rather to work with organizations who share the same goal. Therefore, we are actively seeking out ‘green clients’ and stimulating the use of sustainable catering services and suppliers. Our preferred partners, like The Food Line-up and Backbone, are good examples. They work with respect for humans and nature.
The road to a sustainable area and park are a process in which Westergas keeps learning and innovating. We will continue this in the future, both in our own operational management as with renters and partners. We’re aiming to make Westergas completely plastic-free. We challenge suppliers, partners and event organizers to make steps together. We do this in part with small-scale ‘taste and talk’ sessions with specialists to see how we can make the event industry more sustainable. But we also do it on a large scale, in collaboration with the Ministery of Education, Cuture & Science, energy supplirs and advisers in the field of sustainability.
Together, we want to realize a climate-neutral Westergas in 2030.
Westergas, the park and the buildings are organized via a private public construct. The city of Amsterfdam owns the public space and the monumental buildings are privately owned by Westergas BV. This cooperation works smoothly and is very fruitful.
Our company is a non-subsidized cultural organization, which manages and rents out the buildings at Westergas. We seek out and select renters, help to monitor events and organize events of our own.