A Tiny House With a View: Blok’s Block
During the Rotterdam Rooftop Days, in the beginning of June, the Codrico grain silo at Katendrecht once against caught my eye. This national heritage may be the most beautiful industrial building in Rotterdam. At its rooftop there is a large cube made of concrete and glass. If the silo complex ever loses its current function, I’d love to make plans for its redevelopment.
In the cube one could make a beautiful top end apartment . A very large apartment by the way, since I estimate the cube to be around twelve meters long, wide and high. Four floors would fit in here. Okay, maybe a home for a living group.
Anyway, as far as I know, Codrico is not going to leave anytime soon. So all I can do now is brainstorm about a cube-shaped house on another roof.
A simple calculation teaches that a cube with three floors still results in a fairly large house. And a cube with just one floor, roughly 3 by 3 by 3 meters, would be a tad too tiny. But a two floor cube seems perfect for a kind of plus-size tiny house.
And so there it was, almost effortlessly: a compact timber frame catalog cube house with a cool industrial look for adventurous city dwellers. Blok’s Block, let me make that joke myself before someone else does it.
The interior design was quite a puzzle, though. On the one hand you want all spaces to benefit as much as possible from the spectacular views, on the other hand you also want some storage space and a few walls to attach things to. And all that in barely 65 square meters.
Eventually this led to a large piece of furniture in the heart of the cube in which all storage, sanitary facilities, stairs, kitchen and laundry room find a place. It’s surrounded by one continuous space that connects the entrance, living and dining area, bedroom and workplace with the view.
The Block has a wooden construction, floors, walls and cladding. That is not only because wood fits a Block well, but also because it makes the house so lightweight that most roofs can carry it. Perhaps a prefabricated Block can even be placed on the roof in one go with a large crane.
And furthermore, a Wooden Block also makes a modest contribution to climate targets. A wooden house is in fact CO2 that you can live in.
The municipality of Rotterdam aims to build 50,000 new homes by 2040; comparable numbers are mentioned for the other large cities in the Netherlands. Although roofs are increasingly being used for solar panels, urban agriculture, terraces, installations or other useful functions, there are countless flat roofs where there is still room for a Block. Well, not 50,000 of them probably, but it seems the Block can be helpful to meet at least a small part of those building targets.
The construction of the Block is likely to be quite straightforward. The major challenges are probably organizational in nature. Will building owners want to give potential Block residents access to their roofs? And under what conditions?
Anyway: even though the Block is a lot smaller my current apartment in the 3Develop Tower, I would move there without hesitation…
Update: the Little Block
Officially, the Block can not be called a tiny house because the unofficial limit is 50 m2. That is why I also designed a smaller version, based on one and a half storey height: Blok’s Blokje.