Cube Houses -
ABOVE: Rotterdam's Kubuswoningen are
next to the Blaaktoren, or "Pencil Tower." Both buildings were designed by
architect Piet Blom.
has a long tradition of modern architecture: Its Witte Huis or "White House" was
the tallest building in Europe when it went up in 1898, and the Rotterdam
Tourist Office boasts about its architects the way Liverpool brags about the
Beatles. Still, when the late architect Piet Blom came up with an idea for Kubuswoningen
or "Cube Houses" in the 1970s, more than a few Dutch
eyebrows were raised.
Blom saw each cube-shaped dwelling as a "treehouse" or
"polehouse" in a forest, or as a modular component in an urban village that would
combine private and public functions such as housing, small businesses, a
playground, and a school. He built his first batch of 21 cube houses in the town
of Helmond from 1975 to 1977. A year later, Blom presented his concept for the Rotterdam
Kubuswoningen. Construction began in 1982, and the project was completed in
Kubuswoning is built in the shape of a tilted block,
with living quarters on several levels and exterior walls that tilt downward to
face the ground or upward to face the sun. Windows and skylights open, and each
dwelling even has a small balcony.
After a quarter of a century, a significant number of the
original occupants still live in the Cube Houses, and the odd-shaped but
surprisingly spacious dwellings continue to attract adventurous Rotterdammers
who are willing to live without Granny's armoire or rectilinear wall systems
Visiting the Cube Houses
There are three ways to see the interior of a Cube House:
By paying a small fee to visit the
"Show-Cube," a model dwelling outfitted with custom furniture (designed by
the museum director) and several exhibits about the project and its history.
For "Show-Cube" visitor information,
see page 2 of this article. For a
gallery of captioned photos, go to page 3.
Kijk-Kubus / Show-Cube
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1st inset photo copyright © placetobe.
2nd inset photo copyright © LyaC.
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