Rotterdam’s Cube Houses

Cube Houses
As mentioned previously, while some friends were visiting last month, we took a trip to Rotterdam. There was only one main goal that day — a post still to come — but while we were there, I really wanted to see the Cube Houses.

The Cube Houses (kubuswoning) were built between 1982 and 1984, although the plans were first presented in 1978. The architect was Piet Blom. The first cube homes were actually built in Helmond, in 1974/75, as a test, and by 1977, a total of 18 were built in Helmond, although there were plans to built many more.

In Rotterdam, 38 cubes were built, along with two “super cubes”. All of the cubes are attached together. Per the Wikipedia description: “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.”
Cube Houses
The cubes are used as residences, while the space in the pylons below is used for commercial purposes. The cubes themselves are divided into three levels, with the first floor serving as an open-plan living room and kitchen, the second floor has two bedrooms and a bathroom, and the top floor is sometimes used as a small garden. The walls and windows are angled at 54.7 degrees.

So many people have been curious to see the inside of the cube homes, that one owner converted one of the cubes into a show cube, to give people a feel for how the space is used residentially. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to see it for myself. Next time!
Cube Houses
Cube Houses
Cube HousesCube HousesCube HousesCube HousesCube Houses
Cube Houses

Pretty Ugly Take Two

NeudeLast week I posted a photo with the top of the Neudeflat rising above — some would saying ruining — the skyline that typically features more traditional Dutch buildings and rooftops.

While out wandering around on Sunday, I couldn’t help but snap this shot of the Neudeflat from another perspective, actually in the square. Once again, it stands out in contrast to the more traditionally attractive building on the left. Interestingly, I had approached the square from a different street than I usually do, which gave me a new perspective on the square. In the photo from that perspective, you can see the red building (once again on the left) face on, rather than from the side. It’s the same red building in my blog’s header image. However, you can also see the square without the Neudeflat. Even with the tangle of bicycles, the Subway restaurant sign, and the large statue of patat/friets/fries in the foreground, there is a certain charm to the scene.

Foto Friday: Pretty Ugly

Pretty UglyUtrecht is full of traditional Dutch architecture, with brick galore and stepped roof facades. But we also have a few more modern buildings, including the Neudeflat seen in the distance. This building, in particular, is pretty reviled throughout the city for being straight-up ugly, but there are a few who sing the building’s praises.

Me? I think I’d like it more if I could get up on the top floor to take photos of the city. If anyone knows how I can do that or when it will be open to the public the next time, please let me know. I will say that this Ode on the Neudeflat (in Dutch) did give me some new insight into the building that makes me like it much more now.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

Voetiusstraat ReflectionsThis week’s theme is reflections, and though the concept can be more esoteric, reflecting on life, the universe, and everything else, I’m sticking with the more literal sense. Mainly because one of the things I love to photograph are reflections of the city in the surrounding windows. It’s a fun way to look at the city from a slightly different perspective.

The sun was shining brightly yesterday and as I walked down Voetiusstraat to take a peek at the Domplein now that the construction tenting is gone, I found myself irresistibly drawn to the reflection of the classic Dutch buildings in the large window. The name on the window made the image look something like opening credits of a film (or an annoying watermark). I also like how the beams in the ceiling draw the eye into the image. Plus, I just love a good arch, especially with a stand-out keystone.
Voetiusstraat Reflections

The Ulu Mosque in Utrecht

I tend to focus more on the old city center of Utrecht, since that’s where I live, but occasionally I venture outside the binnenstad. Looking for some new scenery, I took a walk last month over to the western side of town and the neighborhood of Lombok, which is just outside the center, next to the train station. I was specifically interested in seeing more of the new mosque that is under construction. I’d seen the minarets rising up into the sky while in the area last summer and was curious to see the full building. (That’s the view from a section of the bicycle parking by the train station, by the way. It’s only a small fraction. I’ll show you more in another post.)Modern UtrechtThe minarets are visible from parts of the main road that runs through the center of town, but the mosque is located further out, past the train station, bicycle parking, and a few overpasses/bike tunnels. After navigating the construction and detours where the old city ring canal is being put back in (after about four decades as a road), we finally made it to the mosque.ULU MosqueThe Ulu Mosque project began in 2010 and was designed by ├ľnen Architects. It should be finished this year. There are obviously many smaller, traditional buildings in the area, but there are also many other large, modern buildings, such as hotels, office buildings and more, so it’s not necessarily out of place stylistically. In fact, the red brick color was intentionally chosen to refer to the traditional Dutch brick used so extensively throughout the country. The mosque is just one part of an overall renewal of that part of Lombok. (Although not all of the renewal is appreciated or supported, but that’s also a topic for another post.)ULU MosqueThe mosque was built to serve the Dutch/Turkish population, although it’s open to everyone. One of the stated goals is to encourage conversation and perhaps better understanding. Not such a bad thing to aim for.ULU MosqueULU MosqueULU MosqueULU Mosque

Blue Skies and Buildings in Utrecht

Quest'onda che viene e va
The weather has been surprisingly mild for the past week or so. Occasional days of overcast skies and hints of rain, but also days of bright, clear, blue skies. This weekend has had a number of hours of the sunshine and blue skies, so I thought I’d share a few of the snaps I couldn’t resist taking. After all, when you get skies this blue in winter, you don’t ignore them!
StadsschouwburgPerspectiveOud Nieuw