A roam around Rotterdam
A lovely wander around the Blaak area of Rotterdam, seeing Cubes, Arches, Maritime objects. Bobbing Trees, the tallest high-rise in Europe (once) and a moving Memorial, all in a circular walk.
We are now in Holland, staying with our good friend Bahar for a long weekend. She lives in a great, quiet, open plan flat over-looking trees (even with parakeets), and is close to shops and the station that can take her directly to cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.
After chatting for ages over breakfast, we let her get on with her work and caught the train to Rotterdam. I had seen an article about Cube-houses there, and we were intrigued.
As soon as we exited Rotterdam Blaak station, in front were grey and yellow skewed apartments. They looked as if an earthquake had dislodged and pushed them at a 45-degree angle. The Cube-houses were designed by architect Piet Blom, and as the structure symbolises trees, they often are called the Blaak Forest. Each of the 38 cubes is a total surface of 100m² over three floors and one is open for visitors for a small charge.
We climbed the narrow stairs within the trunk to the first floor. What a weird sensation; the windows were at an obtuse angle, and we felt as if we were going to fall out. Here were the lounge and kitchen and each piece of furniture needed to be custom-made to fit into the weird angles. The next floor was the bedroom and bathroom, and the top floor was fairly empty. The views were incredible, mind you, the windows were very dirty. I’m not sure how they could ever be cleaned. Despite admiring the concept, the cube-house wasn’t to our taste. We prefer practicality over aesthetics.
Just across the road was the Markthal, a huge food hall which, I have since learnt, holds apartments and offices either side of the massive arch with glass at each end. The inside of the curve is stunningly beautiful with a gigantic montage of food, flowers and plants. We stood in awe at the site. If you are interested in finding out more about the architecture, click here, the photos are worth seeing.
After our lunch, we strolled around the harbour. Connected to the Maritime Museum, there was a collection of historical machinery including steam tugs, cranes and the only working grain elevator in the world. Also nearby was a small red lighthouse ‘Low Light of the Hook of Holland; which used to be at the Hook of Holland, dismantled and reassembled here.
We carried on and walked across the Erasmusbrug, a suspension bridge known locally as 'The Swan'. Crikey, it was windy; we even needed to put our hoods up to protect our heads! I had seen on the map that there was an area called Bobbing Forest and we were curious to explore. As we turned the corner, there were 20 trees in floats, bobbing on the water! The concept, by Jeroen Everaert, apparently raises questions about “the relationship between city people and nature and how both relate to each other and the world around them” and “demands attention for climate change, innovation, art, health in city centers and awareness of the importance of green for children and adults.” Mmmm…
We had a quick look inside the Floating Pavilion, an event venue, reminding me of the Eden Project in Cornwall. Rotterdam has a goal to halve the emission of CO², keeping the city climate-proof in the future and this building is a great example of this as it automatically rises with the water level.
Just before walking to view our last building, we passed by a very moving memorial listing the names of 686 Jewish children up to the age of 12 who were taken to Auschwitz or Sobibor concentration camps from Rotterdam. It puts life into perspective.
Lastly, we admired the art nouveau Witte Huis building, which was constructed in 1889 and known as the first high-rise in Europe; it’s ten storeys high, and one of the few buildings in central Rotterdam to survive the German bombings during WWII. It is situated right near a marina with some beautiful Dutch barges and yachts which have been converted to people’s homes. I’ve always had a romantic idea of living in a boat, sadly Tim doesn’t share my dream, but, in his own words is “up to trying anything”!