A major point of interest in Rotterdam are the Cubic Houses near the big Market Hall. A must-see for fans of architecture and at the top of our Rotterdam to-do list.
The architecture of the houses
The Dutch architect Piet Blom created the first designs for the Cubic Houses in 1973/74. The premise was to design houses that resemble trees. The trunk is used to utilise more vertical space. It has a hexagonal footprint and houses a pantry on the ground floor. External stairs lead up to the entrance of the main habitation space which is off the ground. The main habitation space represents the crown of a tree. The crown is cubic, its edges are 7.5 meters long, it is tilted and rests on one corner. Three sides of the cube point down and three sides point up. The sides are timber frame constructions.
The living space of the flat measures 100 m² on three floors. The floorplan is the same in all cubes:
- Bottom floor: A living and dining room, a kitchen, a study, a toilet
- Middle floor: two bedrooms and a bathroom
- Top floor: a pyramid shaped room with windows on all sides
The first Cubic Houses were built in Helmond. Sadly, they were severely damaged in a fire in 2011. Planning for the Cubic Houses in Rotterdam began in 1978. The idea was to build 74 houses and a community centre. Due to financial problems, the construction was delayed and the number of cubes reduced. 51 Cubic Houses were completed in 1984. 38 of them are private houses that were sold before the building process was finished. The rest of them are home to shops, a restaurant and a school. Visitors can even spend the night in one of the bigger cubes, it is a hostel.
Visiting the Museum Cube (Kijik-Kubus)
We walk towards the Cubic Houses along a busy main road. The houses arch over the road and can be used as pedestrian crossings. We walk up some stairs and come out on the promenade level. On this level, one has access to the shops and the restaurant.
It is fascinating to walk between these houses. The look of these houses is just so unique and I wonder what it is like to live in such a special building. Luckily, there is the Museum Cube that can be visited.
We arrive at a small staircase that leads up to the entrance of the museum. The stairs are just about wide enough for one person to walk them at a time. A member of staff is located near the door to regulate the stair traffic and to make sure that there are no accidents. After we passed the main door, we have to go up another flight of stairs. These stairs, too, are narrow and steep. One has to maintain a certain degree of fitness to live in a Cubic House. Every single flight of stairs is like that. Getting a bulky object up these stairs must be quite the challenge.
After paying for our tickets we were free to move around the furnished house as we pleased. The words “move around” only apply loosely in this context, though. The Cube was bustling with visitors and some areas didn’t leave much room to move at all. But still, this visit was certainly worthwhile.
It was very interesting to see how the cube’s interior is structured. The floorplan is quite unique; there are hardly any walls to place furniture and since all outside walls are at an angle it wouldn’t be possible to hang a picture anywhere either. The room on the top floor was by far my favourite. It is light and airy and one has a lovely view of the neighbouring houses from there. This would be my room if I lived in such a house.
We didn’t spend too much time in the cube. It was a little too busy for my taste. We preferred to walk around the other houses for a little while and to marvel at the special architecture.
daily 10.00 – 18.00
Discounts are available