Have a look at this incredible navigable houseboat transformed by BBVH Architects Rotterdam into a contemporary living space! The story of the project goes something like this: Artist Laura and restaurant owner John needed a bigger houseboat because of family expansion. Their eye fell on a 40 meters long Belgian Spitz Barge which had just retired from its long life of hauling freight over the European rivers. They wanted the ship to remain navigable so no alternation could be made to the engine, steering installation and all other aspects concerning the safety and certification of the ship.

“When we took on the assignment our primary aim was to make a light and airy houseboat. Most houseboats made in the cargo hold of a ship tend to be dark and sometimes gloomy. To avoid this gloominess we introduced a large patio and 18 over-sized bronze portholes. Although a substantial investment we had to use these watertight Pakistan cast portholes in order to keep the vessel navigable. The entrance to the house is via a smaller patio just in front of the steering hut. Besides the certified portholes we made no incisions in the hull of the ship”, explained the architects at BBVH.

The steel interior of the cargo hold was then insulated with 10 centimeters of foam and covered with light colored plywood. The floor is a cast cement floor on top of the isolation and piping. For the patio itself the main ingredients were an outdoor bathtub and a pear tree. The safety of younger kids is of course an issue on a ship and a patio is an ideal way of giving kids outdoor playroom without the risk of falling overboard. The pear tree is not a common element on a ship but in terms of weight and size it is an easy task to for a vessel used to carry hundreds of tons sand, cement or stones. The deck-house and steering hut were restored and somewhat modernized and are now rented out as an independent mini apartment. [Information provided via e-mail by BBVH Architects; Photo credits: Luuk Kramer ©]