Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube
by Personal Architecture

| 11 comments
 

Dutch studio Personal Architecture has renovated one of Piet Bloms' iconic Cube Houses in Rotterdam to create a residence for delinquents in their final stages of detention (+ slideshow).

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

The Supercube is one of 40 houses in the 1980s housing complex, which features cube-shaped volumes perched atop large hexagonal columns. While some of the buildings contain apartments or hotel rooms, this four-storey block has been mostly vacant since its construction.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

Identifying the main problems with the interior as being "the discontinuity between floors, the tedious vertical progress and the dark, inconvenient middle floor," Personal Architecture decided to insert an atrium to bring natural light through the house and to rationalise the circulation.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

"The building was dark, it warmed up quickly and there was no relation whatsoever between the floors," explained architects Sander van Schaik and Maarten Polkamp.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

A new staircase was added around the sides of the atrium to create a coherent route between floors, while small rooms such as the kitchen, bathrooms, and reception were tucked into its sides.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

"The void raises the transparency and coherence of the building and adds a great deal of sunlight from the tip to the underlying levels," said the architects.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

This full-height space also helps to regulate temperatures throughout the four-storey structure by functioning as a chimney that draws cool air up to the warmer upper levels.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

Bedrooms for 21 individuals surround the atrium on the two middle floors, each with their own en suite.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

An open-plan upper floor offers a space for different activities. The kitchen is positioned next to a communal dining area, while computer stations wrap one edge of the atrium and an area beyond functions as a lounge.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

Personal Architecture also recently renovated a townhouse in The Hague, adding mezzanine floors, a glass elevation, a triple-height kitchen and a spiral staircase.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

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Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

Photography is by René de Wit.

Here's more information from Personal Architecture:


Living Together in a Giant Cube

Renovation of the 'Supercube' into a twenty-room residence for former convicts by Personal Architecture

After thirty years of vacancy the Supercube, being part of Piet Bloms world famous cube complex in Rotterdam, gets its first real destination. Under the guidance of the Exodus foundation the Cube is inhabited by 20 delinquents in the final stage of their detention.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

Since its completion in 1982 the Supercube has been mostly vacant, some parts of the building weren't even fully completed. According to the architects, Sander van Schaik and Maarten Polkamp, this is explicable: 'the building was dark, it warmed up quickly and there was no relation whatsoever between the floors'. Not the ideal circumstances for the new function either, where transparency, social control and facilitating encounters between its inhabitants are vital conditions for the success of re-integration.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

The discontinuity between floors, the tedious vertical progress and the dark, inconvenient middle floor are considered the three problematic issues in the original building. To carry out the proposed program, a twenty-room residence complex, these issues are tackled by means of a single intervention. To this end, a rectangular shaft is inserted into the heart of the building, creating a void of 3x3 meters throughout the entire height. The void raises the transparency and coherence of the building and adds a great deal of sunlight from the tip to the underlying levels. In addition, the element plays a part in thermally regulating the building; the 'chimney effect' created by the new shaft, means cool air from the underlying floors rises up and cools the warmer tip of the cube. Several functions such as reception, pantry, laundry / bathrooms, storage and kitchen are located inside the shaft wall. Furthermore, this 'service wall' supports the stairs that wind up through the floors.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture

With the realisation of the nearby Stayokay Hostel in another part of the cube complex, Personal Architecture already upgraded a part of the iconic and world famous cube complex. Placing this new function within a tight community like the cube complex was a daring enterprise but it is expected that the Exodus foundation and its inhabitants will have a positive influence on the atmosphere of the total complex and that the social control and supervision will increase. Cooperations between the Exodus foundation, the inhabitants of the regular dwellings, volunteers and the companies in the surroundings are gradually taking shape.

Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture
Site plan
Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture
Ground floor plan - click for larger image
Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture
First floor plan - click for larger image
Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture
Second floor plan - click for larger image
Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture
Third floor plan - click for larger image
Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture
Concept diagram - ventilation
Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture
Concept diagram - daylight void
Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture
Concept diagram - circulation
Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture
Concept digram - interaction
Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture
Concept diagram - interior element
Renovation of Piet Bloms' Supercube by Personal Architecture
Concept diagram - programme
  • http://www.marcelmoonen.com Marcel

    Crazily amazing!

  • wolfgang

    I’ve seen those for real. Fantastic!

  • https://www.facebook.com/jscherptong Jonathan Scherptong

    Can I be one of those delinquents in their final stages of detention?

  • rzepa

    The site plan makes me dizzy.

  • https://www.facebook.com/juan.ldw Juan Galicia

    I never realised the cubes where that big.

  • Halie

    Juan, The individual cubes are not that big at all. It is only after the refurbishment – by merging several cubes together, creating the spacial quality as you can see in the images.

  • stan

    They are not all that size; there are some Supercubes in the plan.

  • R2D2345

    I have known this project since I was young. This has been a disaster. Cool for part time spaces perhaps, but bad for permanent habitat. To all architects, make liveable spaces for sane people, please!

  • https://www.facebook.com/robinverdegaal Robin Verdegaal

    I’ve worked in this particular cube for a year. Everything they say about the previous interior is true. It didn’t live up to the exterior design in any way. I really like what they’ve done to it and would love to see it with my own eyes.

  • Janet

    Those lucky delinquents. The Dutch are so good at this sort of thing and they have been for a long time. C’est tres cool.

  • Concerned Citizen

    They don’t look that large from the train.