The centre of Zaandam has undergone a huge redesign with the Inverdan project (2003-roughly 2015). The project consists of housing, offices, shops, cultural venues and a large hotel, all very close to the Zaandam train station.
The shopping centre is part of this project, and worth seeing if you're in the neighbourhood. Just like other parts of the Inverdan project, the new buildings take their design from the typical Zaanse wooden architecture, mixed with completely new architecture and some older buildings.
The Inntel Hotel Zaandam is no doubt the most spectacular building along the canal. The big hotel looks as if a number of small houses in Zaanse style have been piled on top of each other. This is of course just the gable, but the effect is stunning. Most people appear to either love it, or abhor it - this is one of these buildings where a neutral opinion seems impossible.
The main street to look for is Gedempte Gracht. Shop are also open on Sundays.
The shopping centre is very close to train station Zaandam and very easy to reach from Amsterdam Centraal Station.
Cycling there is also possible. From Amsterdam it is about 1.5 hour to get there by bike. The shortest route would take you through the Western Harbour district, to the Hempont ferry (operational 24/7, free for cyclists), to Zaandam.
Zaandam, Gedempte Gracht
Zaandam, new canal houses
Inntel hotel Zaandam
C&A shop @ Zaandam
Inntel hotel @ Zaandam