Bolwoningen – 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura
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's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

Bolwoningen

This neighborhood of futuristic ball houses looks like an alien settlement in a science fiction film. 

This alienesque settlement spills down a section of land along a canal in an otherwise nondescript Dutch suburb. The concrete globes perched atop plinths form an unusual neighborhood that seems better suited for the set of a science fiction movie than 21st-century reality.

The Netherlands is no stranger to experimental architecture. Bolwoningen (“ball homes” or “bulb homes”) is but one of the country’s housing experiments. The giant orbs stand in stark contrast to the conventional abodes located right across the street.

Artist Dries Kreijkamp was the mastermind behind the project, which was completed in 1984. Kreijkamp, who died in 2014, said he drew inspiration from clay huts in Africa and Inuit igloos. His logic behind the design is that round shapes are the most seminal and natural forms for living.

But to humans accustomed to living within more standard houses, dwelling within a concrete globe can feel unnatural. The buildings are best suited for single people or childless couples, as space inside is tight (592 square feet/55 square meters). The lowest level includes storage and central heating installations. A spiral staircase leads to a bedroom. Keep climbing the stairs, and you’ll then arrive at the level housing the toilet and shower. The highest part features a tiny living room and kitchen area.

Though interest in and funding for additional ball houses dwindled, this settlement is still going strong. People still live in Bolwoningen, and tourists have been known to wander by to gawk and gape at their unusual homes.

Know Before You Go

The houses are about an hour away from Amsterdam. Please keep in mind that people still live in the houses and respect their properties.

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