Legacy of the week | Sustainable restoration De Volharding

In ARTIS, the restoration of the national monument De Volharding has been successfully completed. The former rice warehouse has been made sustainable and future-proof.

Building De Volharding, the ethnological museum in Artis, Plantage Kerklaan 38-40 (ca. 1910). | Photo: August FW Vogt, image bank Amsterdam City Archives (ANWX00354000001).

The endurance

De Volharding is one of the 26 national monuments of ARTIS, the oldest zoo in the Netherlands. De Volharding was originally a rice warehouse from 1857. The piece of land on which this warehouse stood was bought in 1866 by ARTIS, who established animal shelters for cattle in the building. In 1885-1886, the building was radically renovated according to a design by AL van Gendt (1835-1901), with the Ethnographic Museum housed on the first floor (the animal enclosure remained on the ground floor). Van Gendt designed a higher central part and he installed spacious staircases in the corner pavilions, which are still present. The short side on the south side, a facade clearly visible from the zoo, was given a rich treatment with a dome. The 3 museum rooms were designed as open spaces with galleries. When the (still existing) roof structure was visible from the museum premises, the half-timbering, beams, struts and rafters were richly finished with carvings. The end of the staircases is also a reminder of this construction phase. The museum was later renovated into the Zoological Laboratory for the University of Amsterdam (1922). Among other things, an auditorium and a couple of lecture halls were added, and an extra floor was added at the same level as the former galleries. Since 1986, ARTIS offices have been located in the building. The vulture’s aviary on the west side of De Volharding was opened in 2003.

Cattle shed at Volharding, late 1800s.  |  © ARTIS.Cattle barn at De Volharding in the late nineteenth century. | © ARTIS.


ARTIS commissioned color and building history research to bring the face of the building back to the 1922 design by architect Ouëndag (1861-1932). In addition, solar panels in zinc color are placed on the roof of the historic building. This makes De Volharding the first national monument with solar panels in the same color scale as the zinc roof. The restoration was realized in collaboration with the Municipality of Amsterdam (Monuments and Archaeology) and the Dutch Heritage Agency and made possible in part by state grants and private contributions.

The armillar at Volhardingen in ARTIS.  |  © ARTIS/Elena ten Brink.The armillar by De Volharding in ARTIS. | © ARTIS/Elena ten Brink.

Armillar and natural shale

The historic building is ‘topped’ with an armillary: a celestial sphere with metal rings representing the main circles of heaven. Symbolizing knowledge and science, it is a reconstruction of the sphere that adorned the building from 1886. In the ring of the porch is a quote from Eli Heimans (1861-1914), an important nineteenth-century naturalist: ‘Those who labored with love live. He who gave of his gift has given forever.

Taken on Volharding with natural slate.  |  © ARTIS/ Arjen VeldtThe roof at De Volharding with natural slate. | © ARTIS/ Arjen Veldt.

The bitumen roof of the domes has been replaced by natural slate. The use of natural slate is of high quality and better suits the appearance of the monument. Natural slate has a much longer lifespan.

The roof at Volharding with solar panels and natural slate.  |  © ARTIS/ Arjen Veldt.The roof at De Volharding with solar panels and natural slate. | © ARTIS/ Arjen Veldt.


De Volharding has become more sustainable by, among other things, installing insulation, insulating monument glass and solar panels. The sustainability is in line with ARTIS’s ambition to be a park without an ecological footprint in 2030. ARTIS works on the sustainability goals in all buildings and homes that are renovated. The restored and renovated ARTIS-Groote Museum (from 1855) opened earlier this year. The aquarium (from 1882) is the next national monument in need of large-scale restoration to preserve it for the future.

The roof at Volharding with solar panels and natural slate.  |  © ARTIS/ Arjen Veldt.The roof at De Volharding with solar panels and natural slate. | © ARTIS/ Arjen Veldt.

Heritage of the week

Each week, the Heritage of the Week section focuses on a special archaeological find, site, object, monumental building or historical site in the city. Via the website amsterdam.nl/erfgoed, Twitter @arv020 and Facebook Monuments and Archeology the cultural heritage experts in Monuments and Archeology share the city’s heritage with Amsterdammers and other interested parties. This article was made in collaboration with ARTIS.

The National Monument De Volharding in ARTIS.  |  © ARTIS/Elena ten BrinkThe National Monument De Volharding in ARTIS. | © ARTIS/Elena ten Brink.

Banner photo: Armillaren at De Volharding in ARTIS. | © ARTIS/Elena ten Brink.

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