Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dutch Architecture - A House Like a Tree?

So when you hear Dutch architecture, I'm sure the first thought you have is iconic golden age buildings from the 1600's.

Yes, those beautiful narrow buildings with the Bell,
Built in 1627!!!

and Bottle Neck gable shapes


But what about houses built to look like trees?  Or a giant apartment building that looks like a quonset hut, with a food hall in the middle?

Well our first trip to Rotterdam gave us a glimpse of architecture unlike any we'd ever seen before.  And Lonely Planet just rated the city as #5 best city for travel in 2016!

Because it was such a major port city, Rotterdam was heavily bombed during World War II.  In fact, only 10 buildings remained after the war.  So there has been extensive rebuilding over the last 70 years - with some far sighted architects.
See if you can find some of the buildings from the photos below.  Source:  Unknown
In the 1980's, they wanted to create a group of homes and a bridge over a major road.  Architect Piet Blom came up with a concept that looked pretty amazing in the 80's and still does today!

He wanted houses to resemble trees.  And of course a whole group of these trees would make a forest.  The 'forest' goes up over the road, creating a pedestrian bridge.

Does it look like a tree?
The trunk is the stairwell to get into the living space - which creates the 'foliage' space above.

One enterprising Dutchman realized lots of us wanted to see the inside of these houses, so he opened up his house as a museum.  Judging from the crowds going through it when we were there - he's got quite a money maker (3 euros cash to tour).
Living Room
The inside is unique to say the least.  Those cube spaces create lots of interior room, but with some funky angles - that frankly didn't seem all that functional.  Some spaces seemed quite cramped. See how Richard had to crouch a bit going up the staircase?

The bedrooms had custom furniture.
The kitchen was nice and had a view to the ground below. But I would want a dishwasher!

But the cube houses aren't the only unusual housing style in Rotterdam.  The new Markthal just opened a year ago.  It's an enormous, quonset hut shaped building.  

The outside is lined with apartments.  And the inside?  An amazing, colourful food hall, with lots of stalls offering a myriad of food

(including this crazy square watermelon!).  And the ceiling inside the Markthal?  It's a fantastic mixture of bright flowers, from floor to the very top of the arched ceiling.  What a sight!

The apartments seem intriguing.  They have windows on the Markthal side, that peer down into the hall.  No one had opened up their apartment as a museum - but I found these photos online.
  You can see the arched silhouette of the building reflected on the outside wall.
So I would take Lonely Planet's advice.  If you get a chance, spend a day in Rotterdam.  It's a fascinating city, filled with amazing architecture.  And you can even find the occasional old building, flanked with modern icons.

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  1. So cool! Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Not to judge or criticize, but let's say different not what we are used to. I was curious so I checked out some homes for sale in Rotterdam....$$$$$$$$$$$ , and again different! Nice to check out though. I would love to see inside a 17th century home.

    1. Real estate is incredibly expensive here. I recently saw an article that said homes in our neighborhood in Amsterdam sell for over $1000 a square foot!


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