Westerpark is an example of a former industrial site which has been transformed into a thriving recreational and commercial area.
Located on the periphery of the UNESCO protected centre of Amsterdam, Westerpark combines a 19th century municipal park with a much larger complex of former gasworks buildings.
The gasworks ceased to operate in the 1960s, after which the buildings were unoccupied and latterly threatened with demolition. The park shares its name with the surrounding historically working class residential district, and was seen as integral to the area’s identity. At this time a movement of squatters (krakers in Dutch) staged an occupation, seeking the preservation of the buildings. The protest worked - in 1989, the 19th century industrial buildings were designated as industrial monuments, paving the way for the remodelling of the site. In the 1990s the buildings became a synonymous with the arts and culture.
Parallel to a reworking of the site by landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson, the buildings were reworked into a series of units for offices, cafés and events. The transformation of the gasworks into a park involved substantial remediation of land and has resulted in a widely regarded resource. The site now hosts regular markets as well as larger annual events, such as the Amsterdam Fashion Week.