By Bethany Lyttle
Life at sea—it sounds far away, like a distant lifestyle reserved for Navy seamen, ocean trawlers and submarine captains. But as shorelines recede, populations grow and property-ownership ideas evolve, designers and architects are prompted to re-think how—and where—we live. Many look to the water.
In Pictures: 10 Floating Homes Of The Future
Shaped like domes, jellyfish, spaceships and icebergs, few of these notions of futuristic dwellings will ever go beyond the design stage. However, this doesn’t mean homes that float, submerge or drift on rivers are the stuff of sci-fi. “Just because a design vision is not built yet, does not limit its potential impact,” says Maria Lorena Lehman, Founder of Sensing Architecture, an online forum for architectural design, science and new technologies. “In fact, by proposing new ways of living, including on the water, architectural design is advanced, and in turn, human life is improved.”
Take Pearl, a houseboat that features a clear dome-shaped topper and a teak ring-shaped deck. Designed by Orhan Cileli, the sleek floating home, which would house up to five occupants, explores alternatives to conventional houseboat engineering. Rather than the flat bottoms that characterize most traditional boathouses, the Pearl would have a bobber-like shape. This, along with its use of gyro-technology would mean it could stay afloat—even in a raging open sea.
The Pearl houseboat also addresses pressing concerns about the marine environment. For example, it would feature its own greenhouse. Located in the uppermost part of the eco-friendly home, the on-board plants would aid temperature regulation, control air quality, and provide everyday sustenance. Meanwhile, rainwater would trickle down the curved exterior of the four-level home where it would be collected, then purified, for drinking water.
Less rugged but no less compelling is Giancarlo Zema Design’s version of a futuristic floating home which would allow six people to live in comfort—both above and below the sea. Dubbed Jellyfish 45, the home would feature a globe-shaped room fitted with acrylic view-ports below the surface. The upshot? Residents could trade evening television for underwater observation–or simply sail slowly beneath the surface alongside schools of fish. A spiral staircase and pleasant water-side deck would offer stylish surroundings.
Unlike the Pearl, Jellyfish 45 is not intended for the open sea. Rather, the unit would bob in gentler waterways, taking advantage of views of marine flora and fauna. At 50-x-30-feet, the dwelling wouldn’t be large. And its plastic and fiberglass construction would weight little. So moving Jellyfish 45 through the waters with two generators would be easy and energy-efficient. Bored with the scenery or looking to explore another shoreline? Off you’d go.
Joanna Clement Borek, a San Francisco designer, took a different approach to floating homes. Tafoni, as her floating residence is called, was designed to challenge conventional notions of land-ownership and to inspire simpler, more introspective living. Measuring in at less than 1,000-square-feet, the ultra-modern cylindrical boathouse with its rounded entrances and smooth concave walls resembles the cave-like formations for which it was named.
“Tafoni was created to inspire exploration of our own individuality,” says Borek. “While Tafoni is only a hypothetical project, houseboats are a fantastic and imaginative environment, and they offer people of all ages a viable alternative to the status quo of housing.”