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Straddled above roads and intertwined amongst themselves, Rotterdam’s string of cube houses, each tilted at an abnormal angle of 55 degrees, have stunned every commuter to ever exit the adjacent Blaak Train Station.
In the 1970s, the city planners of Rotterdam in the Netherlands had a problem. Small pieces of land on both the northwest and southeast sides of Blaak Street were zoned as residential, but they had to be somehow connected. Thinking on its feet, the city consulted architect Piet Blom to devise a way to build a housing complex overtop a busy road.
Blom’s answer was the Cube House. With 38 regular units and two “super-cubes”, each slanted cubic residence is held up by a hexagonal pillar, some of which are located atop a pedestrian bridge spanning the four-lane Blaak Street. While it solved the urban planning problem, it created some highly odd residences in the process.
Living in the cube house is quite awkward to say the least. Although each cube house contains about 1,080 square feet of floor space, only a quarter of this, approximately 270 square feet, is usable due to the sharp angles of the architecture. Even worse, this 270-square-foot area is spread out across four floors. After entering on the ground level, residents must take a narrow staircase to reach the first floor, a tiny, triangle-shaped room which features a living room and kitchen. A flight of stairs up are two bedrooms and a bathroom, and the top floor is a small free space, typically used as a garden.
Some residents of the Cube House may have issues with living in such an unnaturally vertical space. Blom, however, has a different take on the deeper meaning of the cubic dwellings. Since each house is wider than its pillar base, Blom says that each cube house is a “tree”, and since they are all interconnected, these trees together form a “forest”.
In recognition of its unique and eye-catching architecture, the Cube House Show Room has been converted into a museum, which, for a small fee, is open to the public every day from 11am to 5pm.
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