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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.

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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.

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The living room of the “show cube” in Rotterdam.

The houses contain three floors:

  1. ground floor entrance
  2. first floor with living room and open kitchen
  3. second floor with two bedrooms and bathroom
  4. 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.

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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.

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