Zaanstad Judicial Complex

Maximum openness and freedom in isolation

Safe surroundings for staff and inmates

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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Zaanstad Judicial Complex

Maximum openness and freedom in isolation

As a member of the Pi2 consortium, EGM architects is chief architect and responsible for the design of the new penitentiary in Zaanstad. The institution can house over 1.000 inmates, including psychiatric patients who receive special care from the in-house Penitentiary Psychiatric Centre (PPC). The design is multipurpose and flexible. Apart from the PPC, the Extra Care Facility (EZV) and a sheltered department, almost all cells are designed for more than one person. The Zaanstad Judicial Complex replaces the now-closed Penitentiary Institution Amsterdam Over Amstel, better known as the ‘Bijlmerbajes’, and the Panopticon Prison in Haarlem.


Judicial Complex with a human character

The design was completed as part of a public-private partnership (PPP), in which the complex will be operated for the next 25 years by a consortium made up of Ballast Nedam and Royal Imtech. A remarkable aspect of the complex is its humane character, with the safety of staff and inmates a top priority. Efficient and effective in layout, the design allows for the controlled and independent movement of inmates and facilitates the responsible operating of the complex in terms of both financing and staff numbers.


Prison, Penitentiary Psychiatric Centre and supporting services

Broadly speaking, the new building is made up of three parts: a prison section, the Penitentiary Psychiatric Centre, and a section containing support services. In addition to cells, the complex includes an employment centre, sports facilities, a medical centre, and a service court with facilities for loading and unloading. An enclosing wall, 1.2 kilometres in length, separates the complex from the surrounding 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


Design facilitates manageable working processes and efficient operating

A distinctive feature of the design is that functions make use of separate circulation routes, many of them detailed in such a way that, should access be blocked, an alternative route is available. In this way, the architectural design makes a substantial contribution to the smooth operating of the facility. A separate circulation system is also incorporated for support services. The complex is thus organized in such a way that the different circulation routes can be surveyed from a limited number of strategic positions. These aspects of the building layout facilitate efficient operating in terms of staff.


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


Appropriate architecture enhances quality of life and good orientation

The architecture of the complex expresses its function as a prison. Sturdy and restrained in appearance, the facade features large bricks, and the elegantly detailed enclosing wall lends the complex a robust character with a recognizably human scale. A limited palette of materials and colours gives the interior a calm and clear feel. Careful consideration of the positions of (expensive) glass openings ensures that daylight is never far away and contact with the outdoors is felt throughout, enhancing the quality of life and orientation inside the vast complex.

EGM architects was responsible for the functionality and architecture of the complex and the technical detailing of the design in a BIM model.


Fotografie: Horizon Photoworks