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Piet Blom

08-02-1934 - 08-06-1999

Piet Blom (1934-1999) is a spirited architect who is dedicated to social improvement. Born in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam, he carefully cultivates an image as a ‘man of the people’, a maverick who won’t be tamed by the establishment. With his concept for ‘living as an urban roof’ he attempts to offer an alternative to the monotonous face of post-war urban architecture. His projects include the Kasbah housing development in Hengelo, and the cube houses in Rotterdam

After training as a carpenter, Piet Blom attends the Academie voor Bouwkunst in Amsterdam where he is taught by Aldo van Eyck. In 1962 he wins the Prix de Rome with a design for a children’s village. He uses the prize money to carry out research into urban design. Three years later, he presents his ideas in a number of drawings, collages and scale models under the title ‘living as an urban roof’. The project is an alternative to what he considers the anonymous and monotonous architecture of the post-war era. Employing high building density, combining functions and the creation of different layers, Blom strives to create a lively and pleasant residential urban environment. 

Blom is given the opportunity of realising his vision in the much talked-about Kasbah project in Hengelo. And does the same with his design for the Blaak underground station project in Rotterdam, also known as the ‘cube houses’ which are completed in 1984. But Blom’s concepts fail to become mainstream. They remain incidental projects with eye-catching designs but which don’t inspire policy makers to adopt a different construction regime. Blom is too much of a radical outsider for that – his designs are provocative, but not game-changing. Nevertheless, Piet Blom (who died in 1999 while on holiday) is considered one of the most fascinating architects of the late twentieth century.

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