When architect Julius Taminiau decided to move his family of four from a small flat in central Amsterdam into a two-story houseboat of his own making, he knew he would have to get creative on a relatively tight budget.
Following the mindset of "less is more," Julius drew inspiration from Japanese culture and architecture to build a minimalist floating house with well-proportioned rooms and a spacious feel.
Named the Tatami House, the interior of the houseboat resembles the size and layout of traditional Japanese tatami rooms. "We used the tatami as a grid for the house," explains Julius, referring to how tatami—a rectangular straw mat typically measuring 35 by 70 inches—dictates the size and proportion of traditional Japanese spaces.
The tatami mat’s two-to-one ratio is similar to the proportion of a standard plywood panel, which was another material abundantly used throughout the home. By tying together multiple elements of the home to the same proportions, Julius was able to reduce material waste and costs.
To create a sense of spaciousness in the compact 1,700-square-foot home, Julius designed the interior with a light color palette. Thanks to the large windows, an abundance of natural light is able to flood the home, making for a bright and airy atmosphere.
Since part of the houseboat sits below water, Julius placed the three bedrooms—a master bedroom and two secondary bedrooms for the children—on the lower level, while stacking the main light-filled living areas up above.
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