Cube Houses in Rotterdam

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Kubuswoningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Have you’ve been to Rotterdam? The Cube Houses is one of this city’s iconic landmark and pride of the Netherlands.

Imagine living in a square tilted Cube House with  walls and windows that are angled at 54.7 degrees, with only a  total area of around 100 square meters, but around a quarter of the space is unusable because of the walls that are under the angled ceilings.

And everytime you look up, it seems that the ceiling is just touching your head,and all you can see is corners? As I explore more of the rooms, I was thinking that this house needed special furnitures and the thought of living above a pedestrian bridge is overlwhelming!

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Great view because of the sloping windows.

Structurally, the cubes sit tilted on a hexagonal pole. They are made up of concrete floors, concrete pillars and wooden framing. Inside, the houses are divided into three levels accessed via a narrow staircase. The lower level is a triangular area used as the living room. The middle level houses the sleeping and bathing area, and the highest level is a spare area used either as a second bedroom or another living area.

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Kubuswoningen

This is my impression when I was inside of the model Cube House when I visited Rotterdam in Netherlands. Outside it was a striking structure, more of like an eye-candy, totally unique & brilliantly made.

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“Living as an Urban Roof ” – Piet Blom

This is the concept behind the “Kubuswoningen “or locally known as Cube Houses in Rotterdam, Netherlands designed by Dutch Architect Piet Blom.  It was  built in 1982 and was completed in 1984 which is a perfect example of “Structuralism”. He 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.

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Cube Houses in Overblaak Street in Rotterdam,Netherlands.

There are 38 small Cube houses and so-called  2 super-cubes attached to each other. If you want to experience what is it like to live on top of a tree trunk,  ( in an Archetypical way) then make sure not to miss this when you visit Rotterdam.

Do you want to Visit the Cube Houses?

There are three ways to see the interior of a Cube House:

  • By making friends with a resident (not very practical, unless you get lucky with a “Looking for a Cube House buddy” ad on Craigslist).
  • By booking a bed at Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam, a Hostelling International youth hostel that opened in the Kubuswoningen in 2009.
  • By paying a small fee to visit the Kijk-Kubus, or “Show-Cube,” a model dwelling outfitted with custom furniture (designed by the museum director) and several exhibits about the project and its history.

The Kijk-Kubus or Show Cube is open daily from 11 a.m.to 5 p.m. Follow the signs to the entrance, which is simply a doorway beneath one of the cubes. (Be prepared to climb a steep flight of Dutch-style steps; at the top of the stairs, you’ll enter the cube dwelling’s living room, where you can buy a ticket for a few euros.)

For more information, Click Here.

What is the most interesting piece of architecture you have seen lately? How was your experience?

 

 

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House of Mirrors

“You know a creative art when you see it. It doesn’t matter what is its form but you know the genuine talent that comes with it. One thing for sure , a masterpiece always come with hardwork..lots of it.” [ Personal Quote ]

I found a gem in Kuwait which i wanna share with you. It’s called the “House of Mirrors”. It is a MUST-SEE for someone who’s in K-town or a visiting tourist. Meeting the Artist itself is a thrilling experience.

Up Close & Personal : Meet the Artist

Lidia Al-Qattan is one of a kind. Like a rose in a desert. She is an Artist , Sculpture , Painter , Jewelry -Maker , Writer  & Author , Baker , An Art Enthusiast , and a Mother. She makes the most amazing orange/honey/ginger /cinnamon juice mix to die for . Until now i couldn’t forget  the scent , taste & warmth as she opened the glass-adorned doors that allows us to enter her world. She is full of energy and very enthusiastic vibe. You wouldn’t even believe that she’s in her 70’s already. She is a great Host.

Ms.Lidia Al Qattan is  an Italian living in Kuwait  and widowed since 2003. She’s warm , Lovely ,talented , Outspoken & wonderful person. As soon as she opened the doors of her house , you will be transported into a different realm , into a world of magical House of Mirrors. A myriad of beautifully designed house of small pieces of broken glass panels. Her house and her work is an opt of physical metaphor of her own life and her new found home , Kuwait.

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The Living Room..where the magic begins.
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A patchwork with Lidia’s name

Bad things that turned into something Great 

Because of the attack of Termites  in her house in Qadsiya, Lidia transformed her house into a Mirror House. ALL BY HERSELF . She showed us her photos in overalls , doing the work. At first it was to repair an ugly scribbling on the wall made by her daughter. She repaired it by covering it with broken pieces of glass panels .But soon termites infest through the walls. It started in her living room , then off to another until the whole household was transformed. She sticked small panels of mirror forming a creative patch over the walls. She incorporate a unique mosaic ,inscriptions and patterns to her work .

Creating with a Vision

Lidia creates  with a vision in her mind. Using glass & its reflective properties , she created a reflection of what is close to her heart. She is passionate about what she do. Every patchwork has a story , a significance , a theme , a symbolic image of her life and her interests . The walls  are adorned with intricate Arabic writings . She have made one room with Astronomical images and being in that room is so dreamy that I could stay there for hours.In the bathroom is another amazing experience .I did not go there to pee , i just stared at the beauty of it for quite sometime.

 

Diversity at Large

As she ushered us from one room to another ,we are brought into somewhat different dimension. This house is full of insane creativity , uniqueness & wisdom . She has one room full of her artwork as a painter . She has a gallery of her  finest paintings and craft things. In another room is an interactive room  she called “Art Theraphy “. I remember the magical chants she played in the “Nucleus of the Galaxy ” and the surreal feeling of the whole experience while we watch the lights  images shown in the ceiling. It was awesome.

 

There’s so much more to say about this lady  but my words will not do her justice because she is just a legend &  i consider her one of the greatest artist I have ever met in my life. If you want to visit the House of Mirrors , you need to set up an appointment first .

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Exquisite Beauty inside the House of Mirrors

Travel Tips !

Try to go with a bunch of friends to ‘House of Mirrors’ since it’s an experience that should be shared. The more the merrier .There is a small fee for this tour ,It costs  3 KD  on weekends and 2 KD  per person on weekdays.There is a  fine gallery of Mrs. Lidia art on sale, and those who are impressed by her work are free to make a purchase, towards the end of the tour.Try to be game & join her game for you might win one of her beautiful crafts.

I love everything about this place. I highly recommend it !

Thank you for reading !

 

 

The Kuwait Grand Mosque’s grandeur

For my first post on f Architecture and Beyond, I would like to share with you my personal Glimpse on Muslim Rich Islamic Culture through the wonderful experience of having my first ever Mosque visit.

Since I was living in a Islamic country where Masjid (or Mosque ) are a common sight, I thought of exploring this in a very conventional way. Everyday I hear the prayer calls,and eventually I  got used to it. I was curious at the same time in awe of the culture behind this structure.

It was one fine Saturday morning when I decided to join the Tour and Lecture hosted by Aware Center for the Grand Mosque in Kuwait, the locals refers to it as the Masjid Al Kabeer. As a Non-Muslim Expat ,I am always curious and fascinated of the vivid Islamic culture. I have high respect on its teachings and my interest in Architecture and beautiful structures always lead me to amazing discoveries such as this.

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Embracing Islamic Culture

A Kuwaiti Symbol of Islamic Heritage

Kuwait Grand Mosque is strategically located overlooking the Arabian Gulf and opposite the magnificent Seif Palace or the Government Head Quarters. This striking structure is world -renowned Islamic landmark in Kuwait. Almost every year, Kuwait is visited by dignitaries,tourists & students from all over the world . But discovering inside is quite an experience that leaves me breathless. As we all know that Mosques are religious establishment and although it is open for public praying purposes, exploring it in detail requires an appointment & a guide. During the month of Ramadan, The Grand Mosque is attended with approx. 180,000 worshippers.With its courtyards alone, it can accomodate 60,000 worshippers. It is the main host for congregational & annual Eid Prayers as well as various religious ceremonies. The 5 daily prayers are usually held in the Annex Hall that hold 500 worshippers. It has a special Prayer hall for Women with a separate ground floor entrance on the southern side that can hold 1000 worshippers.

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The Architecture  & Beyond

The design of the Grand Mosque is according to the traditional Islamic Architecture with hints of Kuwaiti & GCC influences. It has the Islamic touch that is in harmony with Kuwait’s pride of architectural distinct features.The combination of modern construction techniques, fully patterned Islamic ornamentation  and Arabic calligraphy is imminent on both exterior & interiors of the whole structure.The main structure ,foundations,intricate columns,majestic ceiling & Minaret were built using fortified concrete.As you gaze through the outer courtyards,you will see that the outer walls were coated by natural rocks,while inner ones coated with mixture of marble ,Morrocan gypsum,and other magnificent colorful ceramics.It was so beautiful .The main courtyard on the eastern side of the grand Mosque includes water closets & ablution areas. It has Three Prayer halls and the Grand Mosque has 21 Doors made of Indian hand-carved Teak wood.

 

The Dome and its ethereal Beauty

This is the nucleus of the Grand Mosque’s design. I was staring at this beauty for long time that leaves me open-mouthed because it was so beautiful. It was so intricate, almost ethereal. Aesthetically, the huge dome was decorated with attributes of Allah in a hand-carved Mosaic. It includes 144 windows to provide natural light.

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The Dome inside the Grand Mosque

Facilities

The Grand  Mosque has a special building for Administration,and a 350 sq/mts Library that includes hundreds of Islamic books and references to be used for special researches while doing their research and writings. It has an underground parking that can hold up to 500 vehicles. There is a special entrance and Hall to receive His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah  and other dignitaries.I was thrilled to see this hall. I gazed,touched and  was mesmerized by the beautiful ceramics,intricate Moroccan gypsum geometric wall carvings .There is an enormous chandelier that adorns the Hall.The highlight in this Hall is the replica of the first original Quran traced back to the 7th century A.D.The Amiri Hall was awesome.

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Beautiful Blue & Gold carpeted floor inside the Grand Mosque

Travel Tip :

If you want to have a rewarding experience like this, I highly recommend to check out Aware Center. They can take you into a wonderful experience as they did to me. They hold their personal guided tours for the Grand Mosque which includes Lectures on Islamic Culture, Islam & Historical significance. You can sign up and enjoy a wonderful morning.Children & Non-Muslims expats  are welcome. Please be reminded that women should be dressed modestly on this visit. You will be asked to wear an Abaya & cover your head before entering the Mosque.They have a very cozy Diwaniya Hall to receive the guests and welcomed with refreshments, brochures and souvenirs.

If you are in Kuwait, you can check out the Aware Center’s official website to view their schedule of events, normally they hold Grand Mosque Tour every 2nd Saturday of the month. Their representative, Ms. Iman Martin is very knowledgeable and such a great guide.

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Have you ever been inside a Mosque as a Non-Muslim? How was your experience?

If you like this post, then you might want to check out my other post on Exploring the Kuwaiti heritage sites in the Kuwait category. Feel free to browse and learn more about fascinating things you can only find in Kuwait.

Once again, Salam & Thank you for reading!