Abandoned buildings can be converted into homes with modular kitchen and bathroom block


Rotterdam studio Kraaijvanger has designed a modular kitchen and bathroom unit that can be inserted into an empty building to turn it into a residence (+ slideshow).

The Hub by Kraaijvanger

Called the Hub, the boxy 15-square-metre unit is designed by Kraaijvanger to be installed into almost any type of building, from disused office blocks to warehouses, as long as the structure has electricity and water connections.

Each module contains a kitchen, bathroom and toilet, as well as facilities including heating, a sound system and a Wi-Fi connection – providing residents with almost everything they need to live comfortably.

The Hub by Kraaijvanger

It is also possible to insert more than one unit into a building to create a series of homes, meaning the Hub could be used to accommodate families, students or even refugees.

"The Hub is a modular, easily dismantled system that allows empty buildings to be turned into homes in a few days," explained architect David Hess.

"When a building gets a different function or will be demolished, the Hub can easily be removed and placed somewhere else," he told Dezeen. "The idea is for users to rent or lease a Hub rather than buying it. So they aren't purchasing a home, just the comforts of one."

The Hub by Kraaijvanger

The project was the winning entry in a competition entitled "How will we live in the future?", organised by housing association Havensteder. The first Hubs have now been installed in a building in Rotterdam's Zomerhofkwartier district.

These pilot units are built from a mixture of high-pressure-laminated blockboard – a material made from softwood strips – and solid timber boards. They link up to mains power and water through piping and wiring in the floor.

The Hub by Kraaijvanger

Hess has produced a series of drawings showing how different layouts can be created to suit different target audiences.

In these arrangements, the units also forms partitions to frame living spaces around them. There is also the possibility to add supplementary Hubs to create bedrooms or office areas.

The Hub by Kraaijvanger

"We believe different target groups can be interested, it all depends on how the Hubs are placed," explained the architect.

"One family can share a Hub and use BedHubs as sleeping rooms, with the space in between used as a living area," he said. "But a Hub can also be shared by students or refugees. Then the room in which the Hub is placed becomes a communal area."

The Hub by Kraaijvanger

The Hub follows in the footsteps of similar projects launched in other countries. A Hong Kong studio has inserted bamboo micro homes into old factories, while a Bangkok office has designed temporary homes for abandoned towers.

Similarly, a Russian firm created portable sleeping capsules that have been installed at an airport and a hotel.

The Hub by Kraaijvanger

Architecture studio Kraaijvanger has been established in Rotterdam since the 1920s. Other recent projects by the firm include a pair of buildings added to a school in The Hague.

It is one of a number of forward-thinking studios based in the Dutch city, which is fast becoming a world-class destination for architectural innovation. Other projects to come out of the city in the last year include a smog-eating tower and the world's first crowdfunded bridge.

Photography is by Ronald Tilleman.

The Hub by Kraaijvanger
Possible layout for students
The Hub by Kraaijvanger
Possible layout for refugees
The Hub by Kraaijvanger
Possible layout for families
The Hub by Kraaijvanger
Possible layout for single person
  • Steffen

    Prefab bathrooms are already very common in development projects. Also, is the bedroom hub actually needed? Wouldn’t it be easier for you to put a bed on the floor and put up a stud wall around it?

    It’s not like you can carry an assembled hub in, so the other option would be quicker and cheaper.

    • Jess Thinkin

      Yeah, but you couldn’t match the flexibility and surface finishes. The design/styling continuity is worth the additional expense, and the market will then inform the developer/designer how much more it will bear.

      • Steffen

        Of course you can and at the price point those hubs will be used, any and all expenses need to be restrained. IF you want it to be truly flexible and actually fit “an abandoned building”, something like a Valcucine meccanica system would be much more fitting in terms flexibility and styling continuity.

  • xu

    “Abandoned” buildings have landlords.

  • zachb10

    I guess the abandoned building also needs to have heating available…or do you just put a oil barrel in the living room and start a fire?

  • Chris

    This will be used for refugees, right? Isn’t that the subtext?

    • Cloward Piven

      No, the “refugees” get your house.

      The abandoned tenement is for you.