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   Undertoad  Tuesday May 13 11:40 AM

5/13/2003: Cube houses of Rotterdam

xoxoxoBruce sends along these vacation shots (although not his) of the "Cube Houses of Rotterdam". He says they're famous in Europe. I'd never heard of them before.

He reports that some are businesses and some residences. Googling turns up the following facts:

They were designed and built in the early 80s. One guy basically makes a living out of having people tour his house: he's turned it into a museum of sorts. A visitor said he was disappointed at how the interior works (the cube should allow for more interior space but apparently does not).

The architect, Piet Blom, thought of his design as an abstract tree and of the total complex as a woods.

Units are regularly up for sale and you can get one for about 200,000 Euros. With a view, 250,000 Euros.

Undertoad  Tuesday May 13 01:50 PM

Update: a user (dunno if you wanted to stay anonymous) writes to say there is a cube house in Toronto:

ukamikanasi  Tuesday May 13 02:47 PM

There are some interior shots here:

That Guy  Tuesday May 13 03:40 PM

Originally posted by Undertoad
a user (dunno if you wanted to stay anonymous)
Yes, I do. Thanks.

Jaxxon  Wednesday May 14 05:43 AM

Re: 5/13/2003: Cube houses of Rotterdam

Originally posted by Undertoad
He says they're famous in Europe. I'd never heard of them before.
I live merely 300 km (187 miles) away from Rotterdam and even I haven't heard of them. So, I guess they're not famous in Europe, but maybe they are famous in the Netherlands.

chrisinhouston  Wednesday May 14 09:48 AM

Well, after looking at them inside and out, I can only think of 2 things; Not a good place to have too much to drink, you'd really feel dizzy with all the tilting walls and you certainly wouldn't have much wall space to hang artwork or pictures on.

Their uniqueness reminds me of the geodesic domes of the early 70's that sprung up in California and other parts.

tjennings  Wednesday May 14 10:54 AM

It looks like it wouldn't be too hard to set it up so that you could fall against a wall and slide out throught the "basement". It would be hard to overpower the urge to yell "to the Batcave" every time you did it though.

Griff  Wednesday May 14 11:36 AM

I love this kinda stuff. Too many houses just don't reflect the sensibilities of the owner, probably due mostly to concerns about resale value. If I were an urbanite, I'd be all over something like that.

chrisinhouston  Wednesday May 14 12:09 PM

Another thought crossed my mind. I wonder how effective these would be at holding up under strong winds, such as hurricanes and the like. One of the big problems with houses and structures in hurricanes are the large sides that are perpendicular to the wind force. Because these are all at angles they might fair better under the force of a large wind.

chrisinhouston  Wednesday May 14 12:21 PM

found this:

Behind these formalist projects stands a quaint story. According to Blom, during a town meeting in Helmond about the residential units, a local man stood up and declared, "The people of this region don't need anything more than a tree to live in." The romantic Blom took these words literally: the project is clearly a cubist depiction of a forest.

From a constructive point of view, the trunk of the building is composed of three concrete columns. The Cubes were originally made of coated wooden skeletons, with fiber boards (18 mm) on the inside, and rock wool insulation. The living quarters in the Cubes, the virtual trees, have various spatial implications. The placing of the cubes on their vertex grants the spaces particular interest and the residents enjoy an unusual point of view of the rest of the project and the outside world, through the slanted window. Living above ground grants the community a sense of security. Although in an urban setting, the complex is well maintained and free of the typical vandalism that occurs in areas unpopulated during working hours. The various uses, and correct relation between desirable closure and required openness, create a situation in which even during the day the complex is never deserted.

Life "at an angle" is not foreign to the Dutch, a people famous for their ability to maximize use of space, to populate a building's every corner, and even its attics. To offer variety in the life of a complex composed of repetitious cubes, Blom created three kinds of units, organized differently and destined for different purposes: two and three floored cubes designated as residential, and three floored cubes for public purposes. In the small cubes, the walls in the storage and the adjacent staircase rooms on the ground floor are made of stone, as opposed to the light walls of the actual cubes. In the large three storey cubes, the ground floor is used for residents. In one of the vertex is a kitchen and dining room; the bathrooms and storage area are in another vertex, and in the third, a study and work corner. On the middle floor, there are two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a small hallway. In the superior vertex of the cube, another room, in which the windows are high up. All in all, in every cube there are 18 windows and three portholes which allow for unique and interesting perspectives. The windows are double-glazed, reinforced with steel netting where necessary.

The project, worn out by the march of the tourists, was renovated in 1998.

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