Paul de Ruiter

Forteiland Pampus

Transformation Pampus showcase making UNESCO World Heritage more sustainable

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Pampus will be the first Dutch UNESCO World Heritage Site to become 100% self-sufficient and fossil-free. With a sustainable energy system and a new circular entrance building designed by Paul de Ruiter Architects, Pampus is breathing new life into its history as a self-sufficient island. Cultural history and innovation go hand in hand. For example, Pampus will be a showcase for the energy transition and for making heritage more sustainable.

Fort Island Pampus is located in the middle of the IJmeer, half an hour's sailing time from Amsterdam IJburg and Muiden. Pampus, an artificial island, was constructed in the 19th century as the capstone of the 135 km long defense line (De Stelling van Amsterdam) that had to protect the capital against attacks from the Zuiderzee. Anno 2020 you can dock here to enjoy a day out. For some, the military history is the main reason for a visit, for others the breath of fresh air and the island feeling.

This national monument and UNESCO World Heritage site is on the eve of a major effort to make it more sustainable. Now that the outdated entrance building and the current energy supply are in serious need of replacement, Pampus is seizing the opportunity to transform once again into a 100% self-sufficient and fossil-free island. By showing how energy, water, raw materials (reuse), and transport can be dealt with in the near future, Pampus will soon be a showcase for the energy transition and for making heritage more sustainable. In this way, cultural history and innovation will go hand in hand.

Entrance building links innovation, sustainable technology, and cultural heritage

The transformation project of Pampus into a fully sustainable and circular UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of several focus areas:

  • A new circular entrance building with integrated amenities
  • A new sustainable energy system that includes solar and wind energy and an innovative biodigester in terms of generation, a dimensioned battery in terms of storage, and a smart microgrid control in terms of the management system
  • A new water purification installation that will enable the Fort Island to produce its own drinking water, just as in the past
  • The preservation of the other historic buildings, namely the fortress, watchman's house, peace tunnels, engineer's shed, and fog bell house
  • A sustainable fleet
  • Pampus as a sustainable self-sufficient system, in the above-mentioned areas of attention, cooperates as much as possible with local entrepreneurs within the Defence Line of Amsterdam.

The short-term priority is the entrance building and the energy system. These are closely related and will therefore be carried out jointly. At the same time, work is being done on the realization of the museum's own drinking water system, which will bring IJmeer water up to drinking quality by means of unique filtration. Further renovation, innovation, and sustainability of the island will follow. Just like the sustainability of the fleet (after 2021).

The new entrance building: maximum experience, minimum impact

We designed a building sunk into the slope. On the one hand, this means that it has a minimal impact on the monumental Fort Island. But on the other hand, it also contributes greatly to self-sufficiency. The earth body around the entrance building prevents heating up in summer and heat loss during the cold winter months. In this way, the climate can be kept at a comfortable level with minimal energy.

The design of the new entrance building for Forteiland Pampus requires a fully integrated approach, in which the 4 core values - heritage, education, energy, and exploitation - are linked. We were asked to realize an integrated, energy-neutral entrance building. In the design, we combined the historical philosophy of self-sufficiency with modern innovations to transform it into a sustainable and circular operation. Thus, the building forms the connection between new technology and the historic character of Pampus.

The functional area is increased from 410 to 690 m2, while the appearance is improved compared to the current situation. In addition, through a smart layout with flexible possibilities, the building will be optimally adapted to the different visitor flows. This will enable Pampus to receive as many as 100,000 visitors a year. Moreover, the new entrance building will make it possible to receive visitors throughout the year.

A building that arouses curiosity

The design principle for the new entrance building is 'spectacular simplicity'. Spectacular' in the sense that the entrance building is energy-neutral and circular in combination with a special integration on the Fort Island. Simplicity' because our design prevents clutter. With respect to the cultural and historical value of the fortress.

Because we have designed the new entrance building partly underground, cuts from the artificial sand body of the island are necessary. The cut-out on the west side of the entrance building extends to the fort, which provides the ideal view of the entire island construction. The transparent glass facade accentuates the cutaway in a unique way and enhances the quality and appearance of the fortress island as a whole. No building is designed, but rather a cut-out in the island with the function of telling the story of this artificial Fortress Island.

The glass facade acts as a kind of lens that invites the curious visitor to experience the rich history of this special Fort Island. With the nice side effect that it can welcome everyone and provide for all kinds of needs (including checkroom and lockers, catering facilities, souvenir store, room and conference space).

During the kick-off of the transformation project, the plans for the entrance building were unveiled. Paul de Ruiter Architects has subtly integrated the new entrance building into the island so that the rich history of Fort Island Pampus can be better told and experienced.

Architect Paul de Ruiter "In the design we have combined the historic philosophy of self-sufficiency with modern sustainable innovations. In this way, the building forms the link between new technology and the historic character of Pampus."

In addition to a catering facility, the building also includes an auditorium and conference space. The functional space of the new entrance building will be increased by almost 300 m2. This will allow Pampus to receive more than 100,000 visitors a year and to tell them the story of sustainability and self-sufficiency - in the present, past, and future.

Bio-digester first step towards sustainable self-sufficiency

The transformation project was symbolically set in motion on Tuesday, June 16 by the commissioning of the bio-digester. As an advocate of sustainability Uğur Pekdemir, chairman of the board of Rabobank Amstel & Vecht and financier of the bio-digester, unveiled the machine on Pampus. Afterward, it was Boris van der Ham, chairman of the World Heritage Foundation Netherlands, who baptized the bio-digester with a Pampus beer.

Uğur Pekdemir: "This initiative fits perfectly with what the cooperative Rabobank wants: to work together on solutions that accelerate the energy transition."

This innovative plant, the Circ BioDigester 50, converts the island's organic waste into green energy and plant food. As a result, on Pampus the bio-waste no longer needs to be disposed of but is converted into biogas that powers the kitchen of the current and future entrance building.

Boris van der Ham: "UNESCO supports the 17 goals of the United Nations to make the world a better place. The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) for 2030 are a global compass for challenges such as education, climate crisis, and biodiversity. The UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Netherlands embraces the SDGs. The experienceable sustainable techniques that make Pampus a circular self-sustaining island are a good pilot, with which we as World Heritage can inspire each other and the heritage sector as a whole. Increasing sustainability belongs in this sector in particular because this is what we must pass on to the next generation."

The next step in making the island of Pampus more sustainable is the installation of a new water system. Through innovative filtration, the fortress island will be able to extract its own drinking water, just as in the past.

Public buildings

Project details


Name and location Forteiland Pampus, Naarden (IJmeer)
Project description Entrance building with horeca and visitors center


Client Stichting Pampus
Tenant Stiching Pampus
Design Paul de Ruiter Architects
Project architect Paul de Ruiter
Project team Steven Otten, Vera Laitão

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