Vertical Loft
by Shift


Dutch architects Shift ripped out the walls of this central Rotterdam townhouse and replaced them with a three-storey bookshelf.

Vertical Loft by Shift

The bookshelf, which is 10 metres wide and nine metres high, replaces the load-bearing wall in the middle of the house.

Vertical Loft by Shift

Contained in the shelves are kitchen appliances, wardobes, a walk-in closet and even a doll's house in the children's bedroom.

Vertical Loft by Shift

The steel stairs have been fitted close against the shelves to make all the books easily accessible.

Vertical Loft by Shift

The house is situated on a block of dilapidated nineteenth century buildings which was bought in its entirety by a developer to be restored. Each house was stripped bare, leaving the new homeowners free to make their own changes inside.

Vertical Loft by Shift

"What used to happen is that the municipality would tear the houses down, but they have beautiful facades, so it's a good thing to try to keep them, " said Shift architect Oana Rades. "It's been a really successful strategy and it means a lot of people won't move out of the city to the suburbs now."

Vertical Loft by Shift

We previously featured another Rotterdam project by Shift – a monolothic pavilion with sliding glass windows.

Vertical Loft by Shift

Photographs are by René de Wit and Jeroen Musch.

Vertical Loft by Shift

Here's some more information from the architects:

Vertical Loft by Shift architecture urbanism – extreme makeover of a pre-war city dwelling in the centre of Rotterdam.

Vertical Loft by Shift

This so called do-it-yourself dwelling in the centre of Rotterdam is part of a bold experiment initiated by the municipality to revitalise dilapidated urban areas.

Vertical Loft by Shift

Run-down pre-war dwellings are renovated on the outside and brought back to their monumental appearance, while the interiors are stripped bare.

Vertical Loft by Shift

The empty shell dwellings are primarily bought by enthusiastic young people who transform them according to their specific needs, desires and budgets.

Vertical Loft by Shift

Real estate developers have picked up the initiative and a new demand driven market of urban housing has been generated in recent years.

Vertical Loft by Shift

Site plan

The result is a growing number of contemporary custom-made dream houses within the uniform old fabric of the traditional nineteenth and early twentieth century city.

Vertical Loft by Shift

Ground floor plan

Our dream was to create a vertical loft: a house without walls where all three floors are stitched together into one continuous space. The interior of the new house is organized by one oversized closet that connects all floors. It functions as a storage device for the whole house. This piece of XXL-furniture, measuring 10 meters in length and 9 meters in height, replaces the load bearing middle wall of the original house.

Vertical Loft by Shift

First floor plan

Its modular system integrates kitchen appliances, bookshelves, wardrobe, and a walk in closet. The introduction of a central void reinforces the presence of the closet. The void enables diagonal views through the house in which the closet is experienced in its full height. It also makes daylight penetrate far into the 14 meter deep house. Two steel stairs in the void make the bookshelves accessible and create a vertical circulation along and through the closet.

Vertical Loft by Shift

Second floor plan

The extreme makeover of the house is combined with a selective preservation of elements of the old casco. Industrial materials such as the phenol coated multiplex of the closet and the polyurethane flooring are balanced by the longitudinal brick wall that is left bare, the stained glass and the original doors that are restored and re-used. The roughness of the wall, full with traces of the past, tells stories about the continuous makeovers that the house has undergone in the last hundred years.

Vertical Loft by Shift


Text: Shift architecture urbanism
Photography: René de Wit, Jeroen Musch
Shift architecture urbanism

Vertical Loft by Shift


Design: Shift architecture urbanism, Rotterdam
Project architects: Oana Rades and Harm Timmermans
Contractor: JWK Bouwteam, Gerrit Kooiker, Ijzendoorn
Construction: B2CO, Richard Fielt, Ede
Installations: Installatietechniek Fred vd Pol & Zn., Ede
Floors: DRT, Oss
Fixed furniture: Gerrit Kooiker, Gaby van den Boom

  • HaTi

    I could live there.

  • PiHe

    I especially like the doll house.

  • Sorina

    I like the idea of walls covered with books, however the library is not that accessible, especially above the staircase.

  • Dickie Smaber

    This is such a typical architect’s house (open, undivided space, lots of books, cheap materials and some classical design chairs), it must be their own house.

  • Robin

    They created a lot of space and light in this usually very dark, deep and slender house.

  • Print is dead!

  • Valentina

    I can’t see any innovation whatsoever in this project. It just looks like another sculptural non-lieu… books are just a part of a wallpaper without function!

  • Books do furnish a house – I like it! A kindle will never look that good.

  • sultony

    The staircase cuts right across the bookshelves blocking access as Sorina says. More thought required here I'm afraid.

  • Patrick Metaalwinkel

    The bookshelf is amazing. The combination with the stairs is very nice.

  • tysandsnyc

    You’re thinking short-term people! Shelves don’t necessarily have to be used for books, people! So many other uses for shelves past books.