Houseboats are generally thought of like cars or houses – unique and individuated structures, new or old, for rent or sale, but generally quite varied within a given harbor or group of houseboats. In short: they are treated as stand-alone properties, not as pieces of a bigger plan. Here, however, we have something strange – a houseboat community design caught between New Urbanist town planning, temporary autonomous zones and exclusive suburban enclosures, with a twist.
This alternative idea blends elements of planned communities and residential towers, with each houseboat acting as both an independent pontoon-riding mobile home as well as a part of a larger floating community of lake-bound homes. Erikstad Architecture has a vision of this community that clearly integrates larger urban design strategies as well as architectural tactics.
Each identical split-level structure has clear windows and opaque surfaces that provide maximum sunlight and views while also taking privacy into account with respect to the rest of the neighborhood. Blank surfaces provide opportunities for customization and differentiation within the otherwise uniform collection of separate two-story living spaces.
Though it may end up being too much an elite set of floating luxury property to be a proper urban design experiment, one could imagine a more accessible and socially-sustainable version of this community open to a broader range of residents.
As climate change leads to shoreline losses in many countries around the world, we’ll have to get creative with new floating communities like this one in order to house everyone safely and comfortably. Would you live in a houseboat community if you had the chance?
About Espen Erikstad
The designer is now a member of Norigin Media. “Espen leads all the company’s technical initiatives, including R&D for new products. He has extensive experience in video adaptation and streaming in companies such as NRK & Canal Digital.”