The Cube Houses in Rotterdam
A cutting-edge housing concept
Architecture in Rotterdam is famously some of the most innovative and creative to be found anywhere in Holland. And even after more than 30 years, its Cube Houses remain one of the city’s most eye-catching developments. It’s easy to see why: these striking homes are cubes tilted 45-degree on their side, optimized to make the most of the available space. The result is buildings that look, feel and behave unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere in the world.
Dutch architect Piet Blom designed Rotterdam's Cube Houses in the late-’70s at the request of the city’s planners. Blom had previously experimented with cubic architecture in the Dutch city of Helmond. So when he was offered this project in the Oude Haven area of the center, he decided to expand upon his original ideas. Interestingly, the Cube Houses even form a pedestrian bridge across one of the busiest roads into the city center.
Uncompromising architecture in Rotterdam
The Cube Houses were designed asymmetrically to resemble an abstract forest, each triangular roof representing a treetop. The residences were constructed on concrete pillars with wooden framing. Standing at three-floors tall, their ground floor is the entrance, the first floor contains an open kitchen and living room, the second floor houses a bathroom and two bedrooms, and in some cases the top floor is used as small rooftop gardens. Once you step inside, the first thing to get used to is that all the walls are slanted. And as you enter the top half of the structure, your initial inclination may well be to mind your head.
The Cube Houses are centrally located next to the Rotterdam Blaak railway station, with the Oude Haven’s thriving restaurants and cafés right on the doorstep. And they were designed with community very much in mind – as well as acting as a pedestrian bridge, the traffic-free area that connects the cubes includes a little children’s playground, as well as small offices and studios.
Step inside a Cube House
After curious bystanders kept disturbing the Cube House’s residents, one shrewd owner opened the Show Cube Museum (Kijk-Kubus), which gives visitors the chance to take a tour around a fully furnished Cube House. It also highlights some of the everyday challenges that residents face, such as buying and fitting furniture for a structure without straight walls.
In 2009, the Rotterdam-based Personal Architecture BNA converted one of the larger cubes for one of the leading hostel chains in Holland. Today, Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam invites everyone to experience what it’s like to live in a Cube House and enjoy a stunning panoramic vista of the surrounding area.