The second half of the nineteenth century was dominated by the Industrial Revolution. That is why many factories were built, the Machinepompgebouw is one of them. Since 1853, the Duinwater Maatschappij has pumped water from the dunes at Vogelenzang through a cast-iron pipe system to the Haarlemmerpoort. Amsterdammers could buy the soft dune water there for 1 cent per liter. Director J. van Hasselt anticipated that more and more people would use more and more water. Because the pump installation at Vogelenzang would no longer be able to provide sufficient pressure, it was decided in 1897 to build the machine pump building Haarlemmerweg. The building was opened in 1900.
At the back, there were four underground water reservoirs, each with a capacity of about ten thousand cubic meters, which were filled with dune water. In the engine room, where the restaurant is now, were four pumps that pumped the water into the city through huge pipes in the basement and the water tower. Initially, the pumps worked on steam - the boiler installation was located in the octagonal building at the front of the building. In 1940, the Machinepompgebouw was electrified: the steam engines were replaced by diesel engines. From now on, the pumps were powered by GEB (the non-profit predecessor of NUON). In the event of serious and prolonged failures, the diesel engines generated the necessary power.
It was a famous and much-visited engine room. A technical magazine from 1941 wrote: “The well-stocked and symmetrical engine room made a grand impression on the entering visitor and was considered a jewel for the city of Amsterdam.
The Machinepompgebouw remained in use by the Municipal Waterworks until 1996. The new pumping station is now 150 meters away on Van Slingelandtstraat. The current water basins are above ground, but the station's layout has actually remained almost the same: five (instead of four) pumps and two diesel generators. The 1960s water tower is still used, not to create pressure (the pumps do), but to absorb pressure surges. In addition, the 20-meter-high water column, with the reservoir at the top, is the first reserve.
For some years now, there has been increasing enthusiasm in Western Europe to preserve the nineteenth-century industrial buildings that are no longer in use. They are being converted into museums, theaters, café-restaurants and workshops, and in some cases into offices or living spaces. At the end of the 1980s, the Westerpark district council conceived the plan to build an 'eco-district' on the water supply site. The machine pump building had to form the heart of this, with a catering facility in it. No sooner said than done: since December 20, 1996, café-restaurant Amsterdam has been located in the former engine room. The other areas have been converted into offices and a gym.
The engine room has always been very well maintained by the people who worked there. This meant that the new users did not have to repaint the fish above the basin. The design of the restaurant has been left intact as much as possible: one diesel engine has moved to the Energetics Museum, the other is still in the restaurant. (Unfortunately, the Energetics Museum was closed in 2007 because there were no government subsidies and the sponsors were no longer willing to pay.) Three of the four pumps and all control equipment had to make way for tables and chairs, but otherwise, everything has remained the same. The lamps come from the light installations of De Meer and the Olympic Stadium.