A New Book For Those Who Dream of Living in a Floating Home

A New Book For Those Who Dream of Living in a Floating Home

By Marissa Hermanson
A new book from Gestalten takes readers on board an array of floating dwellings across the globe that embrace beautiful and functional design.

The houseboats and floating homes featured in Rock the Boat: Boats, Cabins and Homes on the Waterwhich range from old renovated barges with charming historic details to new contemporary dwellings with sleek interiors—showcase a breadth of design that's dictated by their environments and the personalities and lifestyles of the owners. 

With its beautiful photographs and engaging vignettes, the book tells a narrative about the resurgence of houseboats and the people who are embracing a low-key life on the water, where they can slow down and connect with nature. 

Based in Tromsø, Norway, travelers on the Vulkana can relax in it's sauna or hot tub. The former-1950s fishing boat was transformed into a beautiful floating resort by Norwegian boat builder Gunnar Eldjarn and Finnish architect Sami Rintala.  

The homeowners in the book embrace a sense of adventure by eschewing land and traditional homes for an alternative nomadic lifestyle. It also explores larger themes like minimalism, environmentalism, and nonconformism, which help lure these people to the water’s edge. 

Built in the same dimensions as poet Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond cabin, this small 13-by-8-foot dwelling is an art installation on France's Lac de Gayme and was constructed out of reclaimed wood and recyclable acrylic glass. 

For two artists, living off the grid and unplugging from society drew them to the Canadian wilderness, where they worked together to build a floating compound that consists of their home, a lighthouse, fish smoking shack, and art gallery—all of which are connected by platforms. 

Architect Ivan Ovchinnikov’s modular home company DublDom is making turn-key houseboats ubiquitous and easily accessible by constructing and installing the dwellings quickly. The timber-frame homes are currently being manufactured in Russia and the Czech Republic. Ovchinnikov is looking to bring his company stateside in the future.  

A Paris-based photojournalist rehabbed an old 1930s Dutch barge that has all the comforts of modern living, but with a nostalgic charm. An architect and his wife transformed a ferry that transported passengers and cars across the Norwegian Sea to Iceland into a hip live/work space in San Francisco. Finally, an artist’s wooden egg-shaped dwelling called "Exbury Egg" was his home for a year as he studied marine ecology and made environment-inspired art while aboard the dwelling in South England’s Beaulieu Estuary. 

Paying homage to San Francisco’s industrial history, this floating home by Robert Nebolon incorporates metal siding, a sawtooth roof, and warehouse-style window casements on the exterior. Inside, the three-level, 2,100-square-foot home has an open and flowing floor plan on the top floor, where the living areas are located. The middle and lower floors hold the bedrooms, bathrooms, and storage areas. 

And then, there are boats like the Vulkana, a hotel-meets-spa and sauna based out of Tromsø, Norway, that takes voyagers through the Arctic Circle. As travelers warm themselves in the saltwater hot tub on the ship’s deck, they can behold the majesty of the Northern Lights. 

Located in Sausalito, California, known for its quaint houseboat community, this three-story floating home from the 1970s incorporates Japanese design details like sliding paper walls and tatami mats. The home, built by master carpenter Forbes Thor Kiddoo, was constructed using traditional Japanese joinery techniques. 

Other structures featured in the book aren’t meant to be lived in, but were constructed as art exhibits, such as "Walden Raft," a floating cabin that's inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond cabin. The public art installation on France’s Lac de Gayme examines the relationship between interior and exterior, as well as society and nature. 

The Clayoquot Sound in Vancouver, Canada, is home to two artists who constructed a floating compound themselves over the past 25 years. The whimsical complex includes their house, four greenhouses, a lighthouse, fish smoking hut, art gallery, candle-making shack, and an array of platforms that connect each of the shelters. 

In a global voyage, Rock the Boat explores the nuances of houseboat design through the lens of the unique individuals who call the water home. 

An old non-working Dutch barge from the 1930s was transformed into a home with modern-day luxuries like a gas stove, washer, dryer, and wood pellet-burning stove. Home to a roving photojournalist, the 59-foot-long by 14-foot-wide boat is split into four segments: a kitchen, dining nook, living room, and bedroom.  

A ferry that transported cars and people across the Norwegian Sea to Iceland was reimagined into an industrial-looking home and workspace for an architect and his wife in San Francisco. The 10-month renovation included installing a new U.S. electrical system and cutting a giant hole in the deck to create a skylight. The ferry is now home to a co-working space called the "Icebreaker." 

Originally, houseboats in India’s Kashmir region were used as hotels by British colonists during the 19th century, and today, there are more than 1,000 in the area. Sukoon, a houseboat from the 1970s, was recently transformed into an "eco-luxury" resort with five suites, a sundeck, and an elegant furnished interior.   

Off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean, Manta Resort’s "Underwater Room" is a three-level suite surrounded by a coral reef. Below water, guests can watch marine life—while on the rooftop deck, they can soak up the sun.  


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