Thermen Westpoort

Short description

Thermen Westpoort is a bathhouse located in and powered by a waste incineration plant.


The Waste Energy Company (AEB) is located in the port of Amsterdam. AEB incinerates household waste. The energy created supplies 12,000 homes in Amsterdam West with warm water and all public buildings in Amsterdam with power. But the important role played by AEB in converting waste into energy is unknown to most Amsterdammers. Thermen Westpoort can be the first Dutch bathhouse powered with energy through the burning of waste. Carbon-neutral bathing a stone’s throw from Amsterdam!

Material flows

  • Inputs

  • ->
    4400 tonnes per day waste
  • ->
    274 tonnes per day sewage sludge
  • Outputs

  • 285000 households per year
  • 12000 households per year
  • 17740 tonnes per year
  • 2595 tonnes per year

Qualitative Analysis

Result of project

Due to the complex combination of the two different building typologies and the size of the initial design the project hasn't been realized. However, the Waste Energy Company (AEB) was enthusiastic about the addition of Thermen Westpoort to the AEB, because it enriches the port of Amsterdam with a public function and allows people to learn about the world of waste in a relaxed manner. Therefor the AEB assigned a feasibility studie in which the optimum combination between floor area and building costs was examined. In the results of that study the floor area is reduced to 740m2 with a monthly profit of €93,- Since the AEB is a government owned plant, Thermen Westpoort now awaits a paying operator.

Factors that contributed to the success of the project

Linking two totally unrelated building typologies, a wasteincineration facility and a bathing house, creates unexpected possibilities and encounters that can benefit both AEB and Thermen Westpoort. Countless are the impressions as you walk through AEB: the hissing and humming of engines, the scorching heat of the ovens, and the wonderful view of the port. By orchestrating this excess of impressions and attuning them to the different programme elements of the bathhouse, one can enhance the experience of a visit to Thermen Westpoort.

Spatial quality

The programme of the bathhouse consists of baths, treatment rooms, saunas and a restaurant. The spaces of the different programme elements are introvert in character where bathhouse visitors require calm to relax, in the treatment rooms for example. Then there are spaces where bathhouse visitors feel they are very much in the industrial environment of the waste-burning process. Thermen Westpoort is incorporated ingeniously in the AEB building and uses the energy generated, the surplus, the waste products, and the exceptional industrial surroundings. The healing effects of light, smell, sound, and texture contribute to the ultimate experience of taking a bath in Thermen Westpoort.

Contribution of the project to the design practice

An almost visionary insight is required in order to provide, within such an unpleasant environment, the qualities of consumable relaxation required by the programme. This scheme makes intelligent and inventive use of the unsuspected technical and spatial qualities of a waste-incineration facility. This ‘system in a system’ not only creates a very special world of experience but also develops a new methodology in which a building grows inside an existing building like a benign parasite.

Comments (0)

not logged in