Dutch practice Personal Architecture has transformed part of the iconic Cube Houses complex in Rotterdam into a design-led home for young convicts in their final stages of rehabilitation. Aptly dubbed the Super Cube, the newly redesigned space takes over one of the larger cubic constellations on site, containing a reception, shop and archive on the ground floor, residential units on the intermediate levels and common areas at the very top.
Rotterdam’s Kubuswoningen (or Cube Houses) are among the city’s most instantly recognisable landmarks. Originally designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom in the 1970s (and completed in 1984), the visionary housing development includes flats and commercial spaces. A show-flat is open to tourists on an architectural pilgrimage, while a renovation of the public spaces in 2011 provided a much-needed facelift for the complex.
The Super Cube’s twenty-one rooms were restructured into a single design scheme spanning 1200 sq m, with careful respectful to the original interior. The different volumes are linked via a bright and open multifunctional central area.
At the heart of the space is an open shaft that connects all the floors visually. ‘The void highlights the transparency and coherence of the building and adds a great deal of sunlight from the top to the levels underneath’, say the architects. This also plays a part in the building’s thermal regulation by creating a ‘chimney effect’, which helps the air circulate and push warmth upwards.
An elevated platform hovering at the top of the central shaft looks out towards the Cube Houses’ familiar rooftops, allowing for glimpses of the Blaakse Forest and Rotterdam skyline beyond.