An Afternoon in Rotterdam: Kubuswoningen & Markthal
Exactly 10 days ago, I arrived in the Netherlands to spent the next year as an au pair. Slowly, I’m exploring my new surroundings and the cities closest to me – Rotterdam and Den Haag (The Hague). Of course, I want to share what I see with you. First up – Kubuswoningen (Cube Houses) and Markthal (Market Hall) in Rotterdam.
The history of Rotterdam is really quite interesting. It has roots back to the 13th and 14th centuries and is now home to Europe’s largest port. In World War II, the city was heavily bombed and the majority of the city center was destroyed. After the war, the city decided to rebuild using much more modern architecture rather than attempting to restore and rebuild using the older styles. Now Rotterdam is full of unique modern architecture that seems to suit this old city quite well.
Kubuswoningen (Cube Houses)
The cube houses are one of the most interesting architectural structures I’ve had the opportunity to see. I’m such a nerd about architecture that I specifically sought these out to see first on my afternoon out in Rotterdam. Constructed in the 1970s, these apartments are literal cubes tilted at a 45 degree angle.
When you’re on the street next them, you have to walk up a few small flights of stairs to access the courtyard. Each cube is built on a concrete base, and all the cubes are connected to each other in a big circle. On each concrete base, there is a door which is used to enter the privately owned cubes. There is one cube house (Kijk-Kubus) that is open to the public as a museum. For 3 euros, you can enter the cube house and explore the three different levels and the views one may see living in the cube.
If you’re passing by Rotterdam for a night, it would definitely be worth it to stay in one of the cube houses. You can rent an entire one on AirBnb and two of the larger ones have turned into a hostel.
The Markthal (Market Hall)
Just a few steps away from the cube houses is The Markthal. Part market, part restaurants, part offices, and even part apartments, this modern building is striking and definitely a center of activity. The Markthal began construction in 2009 and opened up in 2014. You can read more about the construction and history of the building here.
I visited on a Saturday, so the market extended outside with all kinds of food trucks and vendors selling wares from scarves and phone cases to well, underwear.
You can walk inside and there are multiple restaurants, bakers, butchers, fresh yoghurt and juice stands. I picked up a fresh squeezed juice from Heavenly Smoothies for a mid afternoon pick me up.
After picking up my juice, I strolled outside and relaxed on a bench overlooking the neighboring park and Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk (Church of St Lawrence) which is the only remnant of medieval Rotterdam. Built in the middle of the 15th century, Laurenskerk was also heavily damaged during World War II. Though many called for the demolition, Queen Wilhelmina intervened and after 16 years of construction, the restored Laurenskerk was completed in 1968.