Zaanstad Judicial Complex

Maximum openness and freedom in confinement

Safe environment for staff and detainees

An efficient and effective design that ensures smooth working processes and efficient operations. Daylight and views contribute to the quality of life and orientation.

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The new facility can accommodate over 1,000 detainees, including detained psychiatric patients. There is special care for them in an in-house clinic, the Penitentiary Psychiatric Centre (PPC). The facility is multifunctional and flexible in its purpose. Apart from the PPC, the Extra Care Facility (EZV) and the quietness department, almost all cells are designed as multi-person cells. The PPC was commissioned in June 2016, and the prison and the House of Detention in September 2016. The complex replaces the now closed Penitentiaire Inrichtingen Amsterdam Over Amstel, also known as the 'Bijlmerbajes', and the Koepelgevangenis (Panopticon prison) in Haarlem.


Humane detention

The complex is characterised by its humane nature, with safety for both staff and detainees at the core. A 'normal' life within the walls in a friendly environment, with a humane approach to detainees, promotes social behaviour. This contributes greatly to the chance of eventual resocialization and reduces the risk of recidivism. The starting point is 'start inside to stay out'.


Design with the highest quality and lowest price

The design was realised within a PPP (Public-Private Partnership) structure, in which the design of consortium Pi2 distinguished itself by the highest quality and the lowest price. The operation of the complex is in the hands of the consortium for the next 25 years. The design is characterised by its efficient and effective layout. This makes it possible, on the one hand, to manage controlled and independent traffic movements of detainees in a manageable way, and on the other hand, to facilitate responsible operation in terms of both finance and staff size. In outline, the new building consists of three parts: a prison section, a Penitentiary Psychiatric Centre and a part with supporting facilities. The complex contains, in addition to cells, a labour centre, sports facilities, a medical service and a dispatch yard with loading and unloading facilities. A ring wall with a length of 1.2 km separates the complex from the outside world.


The Zaanstad Judicial Complex meets all of today’s requirements and standards for a penitentiary institution in terms of daylight admission, ventilation and connection to modern ICT technology and security

Dienst Justitiële Inrichtingen


Design facilitates manageable work processes and efficient operation

Specifically for the design is that each functionality has its own route, which is often also designed in such a way that in the event of a blocked passage, an alternative route is available. This means that the building design makes a structural contribution to the manageability of work processes. A separate traffic structure has also been included for the supporting processes. The complex is also organised in such a way that the different traffic areas can be overlooked from a limited number of strategic positions. These aspects of the building layout make an efficient operation in terms of staff possible.


The institution offers possibilities for maximum self-sufficiency among inmates in order to prevent hospitalization and prepare them better for their return to society

Dienst Justitiële Inrichtingen


Appropriate architecture creates quality of life and good orientation

The architecture of the complex confirms its function as a prison. The appearance is sturdy and restrained. The brick facade with large bricks and the beautifully structured ring wall give the complex a robust character with a recognisably human scale. The interior has a calm and clear feel due to the limited palette of colours and materials. By carefully considering the positions of (expensive) glass openings, daylight is never far away and contact with the outside world is felt throughout everywhere in the building. This benefits the quality of life and orientation in the extensive complex.


Effective collaboration in Consortium Pi2

Consortium Pi2 is a partnership between Ballast Nedam and Royal Imtech. The consortium won the contract with a DBFMO contract. This means that the consortium is responsible for the design, construction, financing and operation of the complex for a period of 25 years. PI Zaanstad is one of three PPP contracts that Ballast Nedam has won with EGM as architect. A fine proof of the effectiveness of this collaboration. In Zaanstad, EGM is the lead architect and is responsible for the architecture and functionality of the complex and the architectural implementation of the design in a BIM model. In addition to EGM, Mecanoo is the landscape designer and Bureau Fokkema & Partners is the interior architect. Dienst Justitiële Inrichtingen (DJI) is, in collaboration with the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf (RVB), the client for consortium Pi2 on behalf of the Dutch State.



Fotografie: Horizon Photoworks