Koog aan de Zaan is a sweet little village near Amsterdam. It is located at the river Zaan. In the early seventies a new Freeway was constructed. In order to cross the river Highway A8 was build on columns. The space under the deck is strangely monumental: a stretched cathedral.

The project is an attempt to restore the connection between both sides of town and to activate the space under the road. After being treated for more than 30 years as a blind spot finally the momentum is there to change things for the better.

The plan was developed in close collaboration with the local government and the population. The wishes and suggestions of the community are laid down in a document called A8ernA. The locals came up with numerous proposals that were used as the starting point for the renewal among which a supermarket, a flower and a fish shop, parking spaces for 120 cars, a better connection to the river, a ‘park’ and a ‘graffiti gallery’.

Design and engineering company Carve developed the sophisticated skate park that features a ‘Mickey Mouse’ shaped bowl. The pool is a kind of excavated blob that sits under the highway.

Next to the highway is a small park with some hills that intensify the experience of the greenery. Carved out from these are a ‘barbecue cave’ and a soccer cage.

Redundant greenery was removed from the square in front of the Church that as such became much more attractive and usable. On the square, the original city plan is highlighted in a lighter brick and articulates in a Dogville kind of way the configuration of houses that used to be here. Wooden plateaus indicate the position of former living rooms.

The dense construction along the riverbanks prevents public interaction with the River Zaan. By introducing the mini harbor that is excavated from the land under the highway the water connects to Main Street. A jetty allows access to the first two columns in the stream. The Panorama Deck features wonderful views over the river. In an unexpected way the elevated highway offers the opportunity to reconnect the village to the source of its existence.

Location: Koog aan de Zaan, Zaanstad
Client: Gemeente Zaanstad / Municipality
Collaborators: NL Architects
Year: 2003 – 2006