Cube houses (Dutch: Kubuswoningen) are a set of innovative houses built in Rotterdam and Helmond in the Netherlands, designed by architect Piet Blom and based on the concept of “living as an urban roof”: high density housing with sufficient space on the ground level. Blom tilted the cube of a conventional house 45 degrees, and rested it upon a hexagon-shaped pylon. His design represents a village within a city, where each house represents a tree, and all the houses together, a forest.
Piet Blom designed the cube houses in 1984. His design represents a tree and all houses together make up a wood. Blom’s concept was to design a kind of village within a main city, a safe haven in which anything could happen.
Three test versions were first constructed in 1974, and in 1977 18 houses were constructed in Helmond. The many houses required for a woonwoud (English: living woods) were never realized. The houses in Rotterdam were designed in 1977 in a plan of 55, of which 39 were built. The cube houses in Helmond surrounded a theater, Theater ‘t Speelhuis, which was destroyed by a large fire on 29 December 2011.
The houses in Rotterdam are located on Overblaak Street, right above the Blaak Subway Station. There are 38 small cubes and two so called ‘super-cubes’, all attached to each other.
As residents are disturbed so often by curious passers-by, one owner decided to open a “show cube”, which is furnished as a normal house, and is making a living out of offering tours to visitors.
The living room of the “show cube” in Rotterdam.
The houses contain three floors:
- ground floor entrance
- first floor with living room and open kitchen
- second floor with two bedrooms and bathroom
- top floor which is sometimes used as a small garden
The walls and windows are angled at 54.7 degrees. The total area of the apartment is around 100 square meters, but around a quarter of the space is unusable because of the walls that are under the angled ceilings.
In 2006, a museum of chess pieces was opened under the houses.
In 2009, the larger cubes were converted by Personal Architecture into a hostel run by Dutch hostel chain Stayokay.
Experience living in one of Rotterdam’s cube houses. Most of the houses are occupied; however, one cube is always open to visitors. You’ll notice how the cubic house plays with you, because it doesn’t fit the usual conventions of a house.