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How To See The Rotterdam Cube Houses (And Go Inside One)

How To See The Rotterdam Cube Houses (And Go Inside One)

One of Rotterdam’s top tourist attractions is the yellow cube houses built across a busy road in the city centre. On my recent trip to the Netherlands, I spent two days in Rotterdam and visited the city’s historic Old Harbour area (Oude Haven) during my trip to see these modern architectural wonders. If you aren’t staying in the city, Rotterdam is a 60-minute train journey from Amsterdam.

In this travel guide, you will learn the history of the yellow cube houses and what it’s like to go inside the Kijk-Kubus Museum House.

Yellow cube houses viewed upwards from street level.

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The History of Rotterdam’s Cube Houses

The yellow cube houses, known as “Kubuswoningen” in Dutch, are not just a distinctive architectural landmark in Rotterdam. They are a testament to the visionary design of the renowned Dutch architect Piet Blom in the late 1970s.

Blom’s design was inspired by the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence. He had already built 21 experimental cube houses around Helmond near Eindhoven, but Rotterdam was to be the most famous of his creations.

The concept was to create a forest of houses within a city, with each cube representing a tree and the entire complex resembling an abstract forest (Blaakse Bos – the Blaak Forest, a Dutch nickname for the structures). The complex acts as a bridge across one of Rotterdam’s busiest streets.

Each cube would measure 72 feet in height, with each side measuring 25.5 feet.

Cube houses built on a bridge across a road in Rotterdam.

The 38 elevated cube houses, completed in 1984, quickly became one of Rotterdam’s most iconic attractions and remain a must-see for architecture enthusiasts or tourists visiting the city.

an upward view of six cube houses and the sky.

The community created inside the complex is evident from the small shops, including a hairdresser, a beauty parlour, and a coffee shop. There’s also a giant floor chess with geometrical pieces representing the angles of the cube houses.

Coffee shop inside the complex of yellow cube houses in Rotterdam.
A giant chess set designed as geometric pieces in the communal area of the cube houses in Rotterdam.

The cubes are built beside Piet Blom’s other architectural design, Blaaktower, a 13-story residential building referred to by locals as ‘The Pencil’.

What makes the Cube Houses so unusual?

Their unconventional design features tilted cubes placed atop steel pylons. The cubes’ tilted position maximises the interior space while providing a unique and striking exterior appearance.

But don’t be deceived by their unconventional appearance. Each cube house, spanning three floors, is a testament to a unique and practical urban living experience.

The first floor, reached by stairs from the outside, serves as a living space and kitchen.

Two long sofas fitted beside a hexagonal window in a cube house in Rotterdam.
A navy blue kitchen unit and a walnut table fitted into a geometric shaped room in a yellow cube house in Rotterdam.

The second floor houses a bedroom, bathroom and study area.

Workdesk in front of a window with a sloping ceiling.

The top floor is a three-sided glass pyramid that can be used as a small living area or a sun trap. With windows on each side, it can get hot in summer.

As for who lives in them, the cube houses are architectural wonders but serve as functional homes, offering a unique, one-of-a-kind lifestyle. The residents, many of whom are creatives, appreciate the innovative urban living these cube homes allow them.

What is it like inside a Cube House?

Experiencing a cube house firsthand is not just a dream. One of the cubes, the “Kijk-Kubus” or “Show Cube,” has been transformed into a museum. Visitors can go inside a cube house, explore its unique interior, and learn about its design and history. The entrance fee is €3.

The exact address is Overblaak 70, 3011 MH Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The tardis-like interior of a cube house is quite a surprise. It is more spacious than its exterior suggests.

Furniture is fitted to the cube’s irregular angles, and the cube is very light, with windows everywhere. Some windows also look into a neighbouring property due to their slanted design – not something that would suit a resident looking for privacy!

Another feature that has been overlooked is how to clean so much glass. We were told the answer was to wait for a rainstorm; otherwise, just put up with dirty windows.

The roof tops of neighbouring yellow cube houses viewed through a dirty window.

Piet Blom’s Blaaktower towers above the cube houses. The 60m high hexagonal building is close to the famous Markthal indoor food market.

Some cube houses are available for short-term rentals for those who want more than a quick visit. These unique accommodations allow travellers to immerse themselves fully in the Rotterdam Cube House lifestyle.

The StayOkay Cube Hostel offers an economical and unusual place to stay in Rotterdam for shorter visits.

Getting to the Cube Houses

The yellow cube houses are in the centre of Rotterdam in the city’s Oude Haven (Old Harbour) area, near the Maritime Museum and the Art-Deco-designed Witte Huis (White House), two more Rotterdam landmarks.

The cube houses are easily accessible by public transportation, with Rotterdam Blaak train and metro station within walking distance. They are also near several tram and bus stops, making them convenient for tourists and locals.

If coming to Rotterdam from Amsterdam you will arrive at Rottterdam Centrale Train Station. This station also serves the Eurostar if coming from London St Pancras.

Historic wooden boats in the old harbour in Rotterdam with the yellow cube houses in the distance.
Can you spot the yellow cube houses from Oude Haven?

Guided Tour in Rotterdam

If you are interested in the city’s architecture, you can book this Rotterdam Architecture Highlights Guided Walking Tour, which includes the cube houses.

Yellow cube houses in Rotterdam.

Please PIN for Future Travel to The Netherlands

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rosemary palmer

Friday 10th of May 2024

These are so interesting and totally looks like something I would enjoy. So unique.

Gallivanting Laura

Friday 10th of May 2024

This is so cool! I'd love to see it. Rotterdam has so many fun and unique things to see.

Michelle

Thursday 9th of May 2024

The Rotterdam cube houses are so interesting. I haven't heard about them until I read your post. I didn't realize how much glass there is to clean.

Katie

Thursday 9th of May 2024

This is so cool! I was hoping to get a glimpse inside, and you didn't disappoint! These are so unique and have made it to my list of places to see

WhereAngieWanders

Thursday 9th of May 2024

It really is one of those places that you can't believe is actually a normal house!

Anja

Thursday 9th of May 2024

I wondered what the floors are like in these houses... so it's great you can visit inside a cube house. They are so iconic, and I heard Rotterdam is a lovely city to visit, too.

WhereAngieWanders

Thursday 9th of May 2024

Rotterdam has got lots of interesting architecture to see and these are one of the most iconic. What did you think of the inside of the cube house? Could you live in one?