From Dean Dowd on December 03, 2008 in General Remodel
Going green is often described as a way of redefining conventional design and building. Yet not everyone lives in a typical house or apartment. Houseboats are most common in coastal areas and cities on wide rivers with large marinas. Yes there is a sizable sect of the population that lives in a houseboat, and no, the houseboat has not avoided redefinition under the Green Revolution.
In fact, the houseboat has undergone a modern, zero-emission makeover. The Schwimmhaus, designed and built by the German firm, confused-direction, is roughly 45 feet long, 12 feet tall, and 10 feet wide. It features a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and loft bedroom. Not only that, the houseboat is made from salvaged lumber from an old barn and is equipped with a living roof.
Other details about energy and eventual cost are sketchy but there is no doubt that the Schwimmhaus is a radical change in design. How this new design affects the niche houseboat industry remains to be seen. Affordability will be a big question. It is not as inexpensive as one might think to live in a houseboat, especially in a major city where they are most prominent.
Living in a houseboat does fit the new generation of housing: compact, eco-friendly, low maintenance. But at this point it seems like more of a feat of modern architecture rather than a practical option for living space. There is, however, a rather large demand for slips in many cities. Should more boat slips open up on, say, the Hudson River in New York, then perhaps these progressive boats will get some real support.
The first working version of the Schwimmhaus should be completed in Spring 2009. You can see the building process here.