Living in a bubble

I was recently in Den Bosch in the Netherlands. The reason for the visit was to see the Hieronymous Bosch exhibition, celebrating 500 years since his death (fantastic exhibition but I can’t recommend that you go because it is completely sold out). While there, we went out to an ordinary suburb to see these far from ordinary houses.

I was recently in Den Bosch in the Netherlands. The reason for the visit was to see the Hieronymous Bosch exhibition, celebrating 500 years since his death (fantastic exhibition but I can’t recommend that you go because it is completely sold out). While there, we went out to an ordinary suburb to see these far from ordinary houses.

There are 80 of them, designed by Dries Kreijkamp and built in 1984 from fibre-reinforced cement. They are intened as one or two person dwellings, they all have windows facing the same way to make the most of the sun, they are totally inflexible and probably badly insulated (are they insulated at all?) but utterly delightful. I bet the residents love living there.

These little pods are of course designed for some kind of economy of materials. What a contrast with the roof of the cathedral of Den Bosch. Up there are hundreds of little figures, many amusing and all beautifully carved.

And for whose pleasure? The cathedral was built during Bosch’s life. Until now, when visitors are welcomed via a temporary scaffold, probably only a handful of people enjoyed them each year. The answer, probably, is God’s pleasure. Let’s hope he has a sense of humour.

I can’t leave den Bosch without talking about the wonderful Air B’n’B that we stayed in. Loft 73 is everything such a place should be – wonderfully designed, beautifully appointed, in a central but quiet location and with a wonderfully welcoming host. If you are to understand a city and get under its skin, there can’t be a better way to visit. 

Ruth Slavid

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