Vertical Loft

This so called do-it-yourself dwelling in the centre of Rotterdam is part of a bold experiment initiated by the municipality to revitalize dilapidated urban areas. Run-down pre-war dwellings are renovated on the outside and brought back to their monumental appearance, while the interiors are stripped bare.


The empty shell dwellings are primarily bought by enthusiastic young people who transform them according to their specific needs, desires and budgets. Real estate developers have picked up the initiative and a new demand driven market of urban housing has been generated in recent years. The result is a growing number of contemporary custom-made dream houses within the uniform old fabric of the traditional nineteenth and early twentieth century city.

longitudinal section
longitudinal section

Vertical loft is a house without walls, where the three floors are stitched together into one continuous space. One oversized closet connects all the floors and functions as a storage device for the whole house. This piece of XXL-furniture, measuring 10 meters in length and 9 meters in height, replaces the load bearing middle wall of the original house. Its modular system integrates kitchen appliances, bookshelves, wardrobe, and a walk in closet.

street view and cross section
street view and cross section

The introduction of a central void reinforces the presence of the closet. The void enables diagonal views through the house in which the closet is experienced in its full height. It also makes daylight penetrate far into the 14 meter deep house. Two steel stairs in the void make the bookshelves accessible and create a vertical circulation along and through the closet.

the closet has replaced the middle load bearing wall of the house on 3 floors
the closet has replaced the middle load bearing wall of the house on 3 floors
void and brick wall
view towards the study and masterbedroom

The extreme makeover of the house is combined with a selective preservation of elements of the old casco. Industrial materials such as the phenol coated multiplex of the closet and the polyurethane flooring are balanced by the longitudinal brick wall that is left bare, the stained glass and the original doors that are restored and re-used. The roughness of the wall, full with traces of the past, tells stories about the continuous makeovers that the house has undergone in the last hundred years.

vertical circulation around the closet
vertical circulation around the closet
sitting room and kitchen
stairs aligned with the shelves


  • Year 2012
  • Client


  • Location Rotterdam
  • Program single family house, 200m2
  • Status completed
  • Team
    • Oana Rades
    • Harm Timmermans
  • Structural engineer

    B2CO, Richard Fielt, Ede

  • Building physics

    Fred vd Pol & Zn.

  • Construction

    JWK Bouwteam, IJzerdoorn

  • Photography

    René de Wit, Jeroen Musch

  • Publication