Pakhuis de Zwijger

Adres: Piet Heinkade 179-181, Amsterdam
Bouwjaar: 1933-1934
Architect: J. de Bie Leuvelink Tjeenk en K. Bakker
Restauratie architect: Architectenbureau J. van Stigt
Opdrachtgever: Stadsherstel Amsterdam n.v.
Bouwbedrijf:  Bouwbedrijf M.J. de Nijs en zn.
Bouwsom:  €7.500.000,-
Start bouw: 2005
Jaar van oplevering: 2006
Categorie: Tag:



Our architect office worked together with Stadsherstel Amsterdam and the Foundation De Zwijger to reuse De Zwijger, the striking warehouse on the Piet Heinkade, through which traffic goes over the Jan Schaefer-bridge to the Java-island. In 2006 a group of cultural entrepreneurs (Cultuurfabirek, Waag Society, Mediagilde, Salto Omroep Amsterdam, Amsterdams Foundation for the Arts) moved into the restored building, with a floor surface of 5000 m². The new tenants guarantee the exploitation of the building and the cultural programming.

Warehouse De Zwijger was built as a cooling warehouse, where perishable foods could be stored for a longer period. It was built in 1933-1934 from a design by architect J. de Bie Leuveling Tjeenk and constructor K. Bakker, in the style of ‘het Nieuwe Bouwen’ (the New Building style). Very special is the concrete substructure, with ‘mushroom columns’ and sharp cantilevers on both sides.

In the 80’s and 90’s of last century the warehouse had been occupied by squatters, and functioned as a rehearsal space for pop musicians, such as Lois Lane and Herman Brood. In the mid-90’s the city council decided that the warehouse should have a more permanent cultural function, upon which the Foundation De Zwijger was founded to develop a concept.

Several plans for reuse stranded, and in 2001 the Jan Schaefer-bridge was constructed through the warehouse, to stimulate the urban development of the former harbor area. This seriously threatened the construction of the building; possible exploitation became even more difficult. Plans for demolition were already made, when the Cuypersgenootschap intervened and arranged that the building was declared a Monument.

After again several failed attempts at reuse, the combination of Stadsherstel Amsterdam, architect office van Stigt and the Foundation De Zwijger proved successful in redeveloping the building, transforming the former cooling warehouse into a hotspot for the ‘cultural industry’.
The working relationship between Stadsherstel and our architect office predates this project by several years and several successful transformations, such as the Vondelkerk, Posthoornkerk, Majellakerk; each financially and structurally challenging projects. Van Stigts ability to take a different view and the sober approach of Stadsherstel, joined in a coalition, proved to be a winning combination once again. In 2004 a feasibility study was made, which was approved by the city council.

The warehouse was transformed from a closed to a transparent building, while still respecting its monumental character. The large (theater)rooms are situated over the bridge (hereby relieving the pressure); on the right side the entrance, the ‘cultural incubator-spaces’, offices and the café; on the left the facility spaces, dressing rooms and technical spaces; under the bridge the radio-studios. The plinth of the building is made in glass, connecting the entrance and the café on ground floor with the street and the bridge.

Public spaces

Warehouse De Zwijger now has a large theaterroom (350 people) and two smaller ones (150 and 100 people), two foyers, that can double as exposition space, and a café-restaurant on ground floor and the first floor.

‘cultural incubator spaces’

Around 25% of the 5000 m² floor surface is reserved for the so-called ‘incubator’ function;  working space is made available at a reduced rate, for young and starting creative people, working in the field of media and technology. There are presentation spaces for experiments.
Functions and facilities

De Zwijger strives for a combination of public functions and semi-public to private working spaces. The design of the building was optimized for a very diverse use; both spaces and  technical facilities are easily adaptable. Wireless internet is accessible for tenants and guests.


Public activities are conferences, presentations, concerts, club evenings, expositions, workshops, radio and tv-recordings, and internet. Tenants all participate in the programming, but also external parties can use the facilities. These parties will have to be a contribution to the cultural and technological development in the field of media. Innovation and social development are crucial, with borders between disciplines constantly crossed and experiments are encouraged.

 An inspiring environment

A building such as Warehouse De Zwijger was up until this point lacking in Amsterdam; a place where on the one hand Young creative entrepreneurs can operate on their own, while working in an inspiring environment, formally and informally exchanging knowledge with experienced kindred spirits. On the other hand it provides through a combination of larger and smaller rooms and studios optimal conditions can be created for conferences of all sizes, manifestations and festivals.



Warehouse de Zwijger is a special monument, not only because it is the only warehouse at the Oostelijke Handelskade that has retained its original silhouette, and not only by its new creative function and tenants, but also by its history and the special role the client played in its reuse, from saving it from demolition till realization.


On the map