There is a certain type of mental connection that we tend to make when we hear the word “houseboat.” Some think of the lovely but necessarily narrow canal boats you find in the UK; others think of the rough-but-romantic behemoths of the west coast of the US. The ParkArk in Utrecht, Netherlands – from Rotterdam-based BYTR Architects – is an entirely different species of floating homes.
The structure is moored beside a beautiful 17th century public park and is accessed via a footbridge leading from the park. The bridge makes a visual as well as physical connection between the surrounding lush woods and the home’s green roof. An outdoor terrace begins the transition from outdoor area to indoor living space; an external staircase then leads down into the home itself.
The interior of the home is surprisingly roomy, with ceilings taller than you might think possible when looking at the floating home from outside. The open floor plan and abundance of windows let the sunshine fill the entire space, adding a visual spaciousness that again belies the home’s relatively small footprint.
Light colors help that illusion of a much larger space. The pale wooden floors and white walls contrast with the dark wood and copper exterior. The placement of the many windows gives the residents a measure of privacy while maximizing their views of the serene wooded surroundings.
One of the home’s defining features is a large skylight in the middle of the green roof. The skylight not only allows more natural light to fill the home; it also offers another way for the residents to enjoy the incredible setting in which their home gently floats.
“Almost every design decision hinged on experiential values, and not just those of the resident. The clients also thought about the experience of visitors, like the reflection of the facade in the water. Many houseboat owners have a big ‘do it yourself’ mentality, because that is more or less required for living on the water. Sadly, this does not always produces aesthetically pleasing houseboats. That doesn’t always turns out to beautiful houseboats. This project, though, shows that a carefully balanced design provides added visual aesthetic value in this public place.”