Monday, 27 June 2011

Tilted Cube Houses of Rotterdam

Road cycling is one of the sports that I have recently fallen in love with. By recent I mean in the last ten years or so. This coincides with the time when we started getting live tv coverage of the Tour de France in India. We get about two to three hours of coverage every day and I make it a point to watch every minute of it. Not only do I find the contest for the many prizes that the tour offers extremely absorbing, I also enjoy the fact that the tv coverage takes me like a tourist through very many different parts of France and its neighbouring countries. I also find the commentary very interesting, for it covers not only the sport but also many interesting facts related to geography, history, architecture and commerce connected with the route followed by the Tour.

The Tour de France is an annual race for individual and team prizes. It was originally conceived as a promotional event to boost the sales of a newspaper. But it has grown in popularity, and stature to become one of the premier annual sporting events of the world.

These days the racing is spread over 21 days, usually in July, with two or three rest days thrown in-between. The distance covered varies from year to year, but on an average it is around 3000 km long. Most of the racing is through France, but the race also visits neighbouring countries briefly every year. The route goes through cities, the countryside, plains and mountains. Some of the mountain climbs are particularly steep and in the plains very strong cross winds become a major factor. The race starts from a different location each year and for the last 35 years or so the last stage has always finished at the Champs Elysees.

The race route also alternates between clockwise and anti-clockwise travel across France every year. Last year's tour started in Rotterdam and took a clockwise route around France to Paris. This year the route will therefore be anticlockwise. It begins this year on Saturday, July 2nd and I have already begun to count the hours to the start.

Last year I decided to something more than merely watch the tv coverage of the race. I decided to sketch something connected with each day's race route. It could be a distinctive landscape, or a natural feature, or a building, or monument, and do it in ink. And I also decided to stick to a fairly small sized format of around 9.5 cm x 12 cm (3.75" x 4.75") because I happened to have some cards in that size lying around. My intent was not to make these sketches very detailed, but to only capture basic forms and a sufficient amount of detail to make the landmarks identifiable. Over the next few posts I shall be sharing these sketches with you. Do let me know what you think of them

The Tour started last year with an individual time trial within Rotterdam. My first sketch is therefore one of a landmark cluster of buildings in Rotterdam - the Tilted Cube Houses designed by architect Piet Blom in 1977.


  1. Thanks for your info. on the tour of France. Your description is also readable. I hope to come back to the series for a little more leisurely reading.

  2. Thank you Benny...would love to read your comments on both the narration as well as the sketches. I am sure you will also be able to comment on many of these places and buildings.

  3. Dear Sir,
    I'm an architecture student from India. I'm preparing a photographic exhibition on European architecture, supplemented by informative sketches or drawings. I happen to fall upon the sketch by you of the Cube Houses of Rotterdam. I wish to use the sketch as part of my exhibition. The exhibition is for non-commercial purposes and you do not gain financially from its use in any way. I will ensure crediting you as the artist of the drawing. Kindly grant me the permission to use your sketch.

    Thanking You
    Sanyam Bahga
    Chandigarh, India

  4. Sanyam...I am happy to note that you find my sketch useful. You have my permission to use it in your exhibition on European architecture. While crediting me as the artist of the drawing I request you to also mention the blog where it is located.