Tim de Graag | Architect | Pumping-station ‘t Vissertje in Dordrecht
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Pumping-station ‘t Vissertje in Dordrecht

Feasability research


Loswalweg, Dordrecht

At the end of a small road, in front of a tiny harbor, the former steam driven pumping-station ’t Vissertje can be found. The sand colored brick building in cross-bond with a plinth and details in red brick offers a vivid memory of the water-management industry at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. The building is located north of a residential area and was originally designed in 1882 to keep the reclaimed land of the ‘Stadspolder’ dry. The building pumped the water from the polder into the Wantij river, which can be found north of the building. The pumping-station lost its main function after large urban developments in Dordrecht at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s. A new pumping-station was build at the Middelweg and took over most of the capacity of the building at the Loswalweg. Nevertheless it maintained its beautiful and free-standing position in the landscape. The landscape now offers a beautiful place to enjoy nature by bike or by foot and the site is surrounded by a well developed bike- and pedestrian road network.

Main damages and findings


An historical exploration revealed the history of the building and a financial report presents the costs to renovate the pumping-station. The building only offers about 200 square meters. Most of this surface can not be used due to the presence of various machinery or lack of height. This means that the building can not be competitive on the real-estate market. At the moment the building can be bought for a symbolic price, but when it changes owner, it should get a municipal monumental status and the new owner is obliged to renovate it. This situation threatens the building, as the municipality has the power to give up on a monumental status and sell it without restrictions.

Concepts of extension

The problem

Ever since the building lost its function to control the water-level, all the attempts to sell the former pumping-station have failed. The municipality, the heritage commission and potential investors didn’t manage to agree on a viable concept to rehabilitate and restore the building. At the moment the building has been occupied to prevent from further decay. The problem to rehabilitate and sell the monument is the core of this research.

three phases

As it turned out, the ownership, the specific monumental status (national or municipal), the function and the possibilities to extend the building are vital for a successful rehabilitation of this future monument. The construction phase drawing are made in order to improve communication about the possibilities of the building between the heritage commission and potential investors.

Three main phases of construction of the Pumping station have been identified. The first phase is the building of the Pumping station in 1882. At that time, it contained a coal shed, a boiler-room and a machine-room. The second phase is represented by the modernization of 1932. Back then the building was equipped with electric engines to meet the standards of the time. In 1939 the boiler-room was transformed into a residence by adding windows and an extra floor. This is presented as construction phase 3.

Construction phase drawing


The so called ‘Bindungsplan’ (drawing which shows an advice on how the different parts of the building should be treated) is made based on the construction phase drawings.  This is a guideline for future owners about the possibilities to change the building. Construction phase 1 and 2 are considered most valuable and especially the completeness of the complex is considered important. Financial advantages for municipal or national monuments are presented and compared in the report as well. This includes conventional methods to finance renovation like low-interest loans and subsidies but also more contemporary solutions like crowd-funding.

A concept towards the future

Several functions for the building were considered, but given the location, the potential of the building and the need for a high investment, the idea to transform the building in so called ‘Horeca’ (HOtel, REstaurant, CAfe) seems to be the best choice. Nevertheless, current real-estate prices reveal that to make  a profitable investment an extension is essential. Therefore, an important aspect is to research the possibilities to extend the pumping-station without harming the monumental value and the landscape. A sophisticate possible solution could be found by adding relatively small modern interpretations of the coal shed as weekend/holiday houses.

Posts about this project
Location Loswalweg, Dordrecht (NL)
Year 2014
Type Research
Surface 200m2