Where preservation and urban planning meet: the reconversion of the Royal Netherlands Navy shipyard Willemsoord

Charlotte van Emstede

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


This paper presents the case study of the reconversion of former naval shipyard Willemsoord in Den Helder, the Netherlands. From 1814 till 1994, the Royal Netherlands Navy built and maintained a large part of their fleet there. In 1994, they moved their naval engineering activities to a new shipyard and
decommissioned Willemsoord. Ownership of this former industrial-military site transferred to the Municipality of Den Helder who took it upon themselves to repurpose this historic naval shipyard for civil use.
In this paper, we reconstruct the reconversion planning process of Willemsoord (1994-present) through literature study, archival research and stakeholder interviews. Thereby we focus on identifying the role that varied heritage values and assessments play within preservation decision-making. This paper shows that a long-running reconversion operation entails an ongoing discourse on heritage significance and key heritage values. We found that neither the designation statements nor the additional building archaeological value assessments explicitly articulated the spatial characteristics of this industrialmilitary site, that is its enclosed character and spacious and open inner grounds. It was a spatialhistorical analysis that identified these attributes as key features and matched them to heritage values, physical assets and other site characteristics. It served as a comprehensive decision-making framework to effectively manage change to this former naval shipyard.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMilitary Landscapes
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the International Conference A future for military heritage
EditorsDonatella Rita Fiorino
Place of PublicationMilano
PublisherSkira editore S.p.A.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-88-572-3732-9
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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