Bolwoningen: The Golf Ball-Shaped Homes of Den Bosch, Netherlands

From some angles the bolwoningen appear to be caught in open-mouthed surprise.
From some angles the bolwoningen appear to be caught in open-mouthed surprise. / Erik Wannee, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 1.0

About an hour’s drive southeast from Amsterdam is a 12th-century city called Den Bosch, which boasts the Netherlands’s largest Catholic church and an art center devoted to painter Hieronymus Bosch (who was born there). As Unusual Places reports, Den Bosch also plays host to a neighborhood comprising 50 golf ball-shaped homes.

The homes—aptly named bolwoningen, for “ball houses”—were the last product of a grant for innovative residential developments the Dutch government launched in 1968. Dutch artist Dries Kreijkamp built them in 1984, the same year the grant was eliminated. Though the colorless, concrete abodes seem industrial or even futuristic, Kreijkamp actually based them on much older models: Inuit igloos and African clay huts.

The quaint neighborhood as seen from across the stream.
The quaint neighborhood as seen from across the stream. / grotevriendelijkereus, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

"The globe-shape is totally self-evident. It’s the most organic and natural shape possible," Kreijkam once explained in an interview, according to uncube magazine. “The globe combines the biggest possible volume with the smallest possible surface area, so you need minimum material for it. It’s space-saving, very ecological, and nearly maintenance-free. Need I say more?”

Each ball sits atop a cylinder with a front door, a storage space, and a staircase that winds up and then wraps around the inner wall of the ball itself. In addition to the bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen, there are also several windows and a skylight—which help give the impression that the home is a little larger than its 592 square feet.

Would you live here?
Would you live here? / Velopilger, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Kreijkamp remained a strong believer in his invention and continued masterminding bolwoningen blueprints until his death in 2014. Variations on the design featured lightweight polyester instead of concrete, and even capabilities for solar and wind energy. But while people have been happy enough to continue living in the existing supersized golf balls of Den Bosch, the idea never really caught on—as you can probably guess from the conspicuous lack of bolwoningen in your (or any other) neighborhood.

[h/t Unusual Places]