Haarlem, NL
Sustainable revitalisation of industrial heritage


Seinwezen (‘Signalling System’ in English) is a multi-purpose space housed in a municipal heritage building. Built in 1915, the building used to function as the headquarters for maintenance of the railway signals. The building came in disuse and was acquired in 2011 by a local entrepreneur. He initiated the sustainable renovation of the building. Seinwezen became home to several (social) businesses and offers co-working and events spaces for rent. It is also home to a neighbourhood cooperation and a foundation that is aimed at improving the quality of life in Haarlem. Nowadays, Seinwezen is managed through Stadsherstel Amsterdam, a private foundation that maintains and exploits heritage buildings in the cities of Amsterdam and Haarlem.


The Netherlands
Outside city centre


Seinwezen (‘Signalling System’ in English) is established in a municipal heritage building built in 1915. Until the 1990s, the building functioned as the headquarters of the department of the Dutch Railway Company (NederlandseSpoorwegen) that is responsible for the maintenance of the railway signals. After the building came in disuse, it was acquired by a local entrepreneur in 2011. During the much needed renovations, sustainability was an important theme, resulting in, among others, a green roof on top of the building. [1;2]

Nowadays, Seinwezen aims to make a positive contribution to a more sustainable world. It looks to create a positive social impact and foster social entrepreneurship. Throughout the years, Seinwezen has initiated entrepreneurial and social activities and has connected people from different backgrounds. Spaces in the building are rented out to (social) businesses, providing a home to 14 organisations in 2019. It is also possible to rent co-working spaces for individuals and organisations, as well as event spaces. A range of cultural and social events are hosted, both by Seinwezen, as well as by outside parties. These include, among others, concerts for different age groups, as well as expositions from experienced artists and local schools. [1;2;4]

Seinwezen is also home to the neighbourhood cooperation Duurzaam Garenkokerskwartier (Sustainable Garenkokers District). This cooperation has originated in the building, and facilitates projects and ideas of the local community. One of the ideas of the neighbourhood cooperation has resulted in the establishment of an energy cooperative. In 2015, 22 community members have invested in 110 solar panels, making the roof of Seinwezen the first collective solar panel roof in the province. Moreover, Stichting Stadsgarage Haarlem (Foundation City Garage Haarlem) operates from Seinwezen. This foundation supports local community members with the implementation of ideas to improve the city. One of the projects conducted by the foundation is aimed at supporting local parties to develop sustainable and meaningful entrepreneurial initiatives. [1;3]


Heritage utilized
Building(s) and/or monumental structures
Cultural and Creative Industries; Resilient and Human Connected places
Community action; Energy transition; Education; Entertainment


A local entrepreneur, Baud Schoenmaeckers saw the building during a train journey and decided that, despite the run-down status, it would be an inspiring working place. Through crowdfunding and private investments of local stakeholders, the building was acquired in 2011 and restoration started. This was done through Seinwezen Beheer (Seinwezen Management), a private company set up by Baud Schoenmaeckers to acquire and exploit the building. [1;3]

In May 2019,  Seinwezen was sold to Stadsherstel Amterdam (City Restoration Amsterdam), a private foundation that restores, maintains and exploits heritage buildings in the cities of Amsterdam and Haarlem. Stadsherstel is continuing the (sustainable) renovation of the building, and continues with the rental and event services. Baud Schoenmaeckers is still involved as ambassador of Seinwezen, as well as in Stichting Stadsgarage. [1;3]


Governance arrangement
Led by private sector
Organisational form
Non-Profit Entity
Stakeholders involved in implementation
Private sector businesses; non-profit organisation

Business Model

With the initial investments in the building being covered through crowdfunding and private investments, Seinwezen needed a sustainable source of income to continue to maintain and exploit the building. Income is generated through rental of working space for (social) businesses, as well as rental from co-working and event spaces. [1;4]


Initial investment
Type of financial resources utilized
Private investments; Crowdfunding; Revenue generated through organisational activities
Source of financial resources
Private investors; Crowdfunding; Organisational activities
Non-financial contributions


  1. Seinwezen, organisational website,, accessed on 18/08/2022

  2. Stadsherstel, initiative website,, accessed on 18/08/2022

  3. Historical Association Haarlem, Newsletter January 2016, available here, accessed on 18-08-2022

  4. Annual Report Stadsherstel Amsterdam, available here, accessed on 18-08-2022