It’s true that Rotterdam didn’t do much to impress me! It was more than I expected it to be and definitely more than some locals had warned me: It was modern and edgy and still maintained some traditional dutch elements and had a lot of character.

I liked it so much that I visited it 3 times in one week! The reason I went back for the 3rd time though was one of its landmarks: the Cube Houses in the city’s Blaak district (Kubuswoningen in Dutch)! I had to see what it looks like living inside of them!

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Some of the Cube Houses as seen from the Blaak Station

Some of the Cube Houses as seen from the Blaak Station

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What are the Cube Houses?

Piet Blom (1934-1999) was an architect and an important exponent of structuralism. In 1978 he presented his ideas for 2 projects surrounding the Old Harbour (Oude haven): His goal was for them to look like 3 different architects had been involved.

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The original idea was for 74 cube houses to be made, but they were reduced to 38 in the final design. Blom tilted a traditional cube-shaped house 45 degrees and lifted it on a hexagon-shaped pylon. All 38 of them are connected together with two supersized cubes at both ends of the string.

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Rotterdam Blaak Cube Houses

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According to the sign outside the construction, “Blom saw a tree in a cube house and the pole as a trunk. The complex gave him the impression of a cathedral or of a forest.”. That’s why it was nicknamed Blaak Forest.

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Each cube has a total surface of 100 m2 over 3 floors, which Blom named street house, sky house and tabernacle. The pole is used as storage space and entrance.

Who uses them? Does anyone live inside the Cube Houses?

This is the first question I had as soon as I saw them! They sure look pretty, but would someone live in one of those weird shaped houses? Well, the answer is yes! People do live in them and some of the are used as offices or other small businesses.

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This is me in one of the complex's courtyards

This is me in one of the complex’s courtyards

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Can I visit one of the Cube Houses?

One of them is actually used as a museum. It’s called Kijkkubus (Show Cube). For a 3€ fee, visitors can go in and explore what a house like this looks like and what it may feel when someone’s residence is not the usual parallel lined one and has absolutely no straight, vertical walls! Their opening hours are 11am-5pm on every day (including weekends). So, make sure you don’t arrive too early or too late, like I did twice!

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Another one is used as a hostel! It’s the Stayok Hostel Rotterdam. Not only do you get to see, but you, also, experience living inside a Cube House! And for a very good price, too!

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Here is the exact location, right next to the Blaak Station:

 

Do you wanna take a look inside?

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This is the kitchen, located on the 1st level

This is the kitchen, located on the 1st level

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A small office on the 2nd level

A small office on the 2nd level

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The 2nd floor bedroom and its tiny window!

The 2nd floor bedroom and its tiny window!

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The 3rd level of the house, which is the only one that gets decent sunlight and has some good views!

The 3rd level of the house, which is the only one that gets decent sunlight and has some good views!

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The view from the top floor. You can see some of the other Cube Houses, as well as the Blaaktoren (also known as Het Potlood or Pencil Tower) and a little bit of the beautiful Markthal

The view from the top floor. You can see some of the other Cube Houses, as well as the Blaaktoren (also known as Het Potlood or Pencil Tower) and a little bit of the beautiful Markthal

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Occasionally you can see people working in unusual places, too!

Occasionally you can see people working in unusual places, too!

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What did I think?

While it looks great from the outside and I couldn’t stop taking photos of it, it felt a bit claustrophobic from the inside. Except for the top floor, not much sunlight was coming through its windows.

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Pretty and impressive from every angle!

Pretty and impressive from every angle!

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Also, the dated furnishings used for the display in Kijkkubus failed to give the edgy character such a construction can easily pull off. If I had the chance, I’d do it differently. Though I understand the space limitations.
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I made sure I was there at 11am to beat the crowds and there were 2-3 groups of people inside, which was ok. With a little bit of patience I did get each floor to myself for some time. But I can’t imagine what it would look like on a busy day with many people in small rooms.

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My Snapchat Story on Rotterdam and the Cube Houses!

Here’s my Snapchat Story of that day, which gives you a bit of a better idea of the interiors.

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(For more real time travelling stories and impressions, add Hide In My Suitcase on Snapchat (hideinmsuitcase)!)

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Like I said on that day:

Was it worth the 3€ entry fee? Definitely!

Was it worth the 30€ return train ticket? Hmmmm….