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Visiting the Toronto Cubes, Ontario and the Rotterdam Cubes, The Netherlands: intriguing, innovative residences

Updated on April 4, 2012
Flag of Ontario
Flag of Ontario | Source
Flag of The Netherlands
Flag of The Netherlands | Source
The Toronto Cubes, Ontario
The Toronto Cubes, Ontario | Source
A Cube House in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
A Cube House in Rotterdam, The Netherlands | Source

Space-saving designs offering unique living experiences

Having seen these structures in both cities, I can fairly say that these are some of the most conspicuously individualistic residences to have been built in the cities of Toronto, Ontario and Rotterdam, The Netherlands, respectively.

Based on the hexagon-shaped cube, the basic designs of the houses turn on their head traditional notions of building shapes.

The Rotterdam Cubes are older and more numerous than those of Toronto. The design of the Toronto Cubes was heavily influenced by those of Rotterdam.

The Toronto Cubes were built in 1996, the responsibility of architects Ben Kushner and Jeff Brown. Part of the design concept was to maximize surfaces able to catch the sun, in order to make savings on energy by the use of solar power technology. Three of the planned seven Cubes were built. The Cubes are located in Shumach Street, at its junction with Eastern Avenue, in Corkstown neighbourhood.

The Rotterdam Cube Houses (Dutch: Kubuswoningen ) were designed in 1984; their architect was Piet Blom. Architect Blom (who died in 1999) was associated with the Structuralist movement within his profession.

These Cubes, designed by Architect Blom, total 39, from an original plan for 55.They are situated in the street known locally as De Blaak .

Architect Blom was also involved in a similar project for Cube Houses in Helmond, The Netherlands, of which 18 were built. While the Helmond Cube Houses predate those of Rotterdam, yet because Rotterdam's are more numerous — and possibibly because Rotterdam tends to attract more visitors than Helmond — the Rotterdam Cube House are more well-known than their counterparts in Helmond.

Both the Toronto and Rotterdam Cube Houses offer a proportionally economical use of ground space in comparison with the overall dimensions of the buildings. Indeed, because of their small ground area, the Rotterdam Cubes are sometimes known as the Pole Dwellings (Dutch: Paalwoningen ).

The Rotterdam Cube Houses contain three storeys; those in Toronto have either two or three levels. Being part of a larger complex, one of the Rotterdam Cube Houses has been turned into a fully furnished show-house open to the public; this has resulted from the intensity of interest which has been shown in the complex by tourists.

In recent years, some of the Rotterdam Cube Houses have been converted into a 243-bed hostel.


Various factual sources for this article were used; these include: Martin Trainor, 'It's All About the Cubes', in: The Corktowner, June 01, 2011, p. p. 3-4.

Also worth seeing

In Toronto , visitor attractions include the Legislative Assembly Building, the CN Tower, Old City Hall, and Old Fort York.

In Rotterdam , visitor attractions include the Euromast, the Statue of Erasmus, and the City Hall.


How to get to Toronto: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. However, visitors to Downtown Toronto will find many sights to be easily walkable.

How to get to Rotterdam: Airlines flying to Amsterdam Airport from New York include Delta Airlines and KLM. The Dutch railroad company NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) maintains rail services from Amsterdam Airport to Rotterdam. There is car rental availability at Amsterdam airport.

Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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