Step inside one couple's floating house in the Netherlands, which has a green roof, lots of natural light, and all the amenities of a conventional home
Floating houses and houseboats are a common sight in the Netherlands.
A Rotterdam-based studio designed a floating home that stands out from the rest with its origami-like facade.
The building has a green roof and is connected to water pipes and power lines on the shore.
Floating houses are a common sight in the Netherlands, but one that was built for a millennial couple in the city of Leiden stands out from its neighbors due to its origami-like facade.
Dubbed "The Float," the one-bedroom home in the city of Leiden was designed and built by Studio RAP, a Rotterdam-based architectural design company.
In 2020, a millennial couple bought a floating house and commissioned the studio to create a more contemporary and sustainable new build in its place.
"That's how we came up with the idea to use as much bio-based material as possible to build the house," Wessel van Beerendonk, the project architect, told Insider.
To avoid the appearance of a single floating container, van Beerendonk and his team decided to divide the house into a series of boxes with a staggered facade.
"We started to rotate those boxes in the direction of a park on the opposite side of the canal, and by doing that we came up with the idea that we can corrugate the walls and the roof in a way that's inspired by origami," he said.
Insider was not able to contact the homeowners for this story. Beerendonk declined to provide the homeowners' names, citing their privacy.
All the panels used to build the house were pre-fabricated, and then assembled onsite within a week.
The original plan was to build the entire house off-site and tow it to the desired location with a boat, van Beerendonk said.
"But because it's in the city of Leiden and there are a lot of historic bridges that cannot be opened, that idea was not possible," he said.
In the end, the team decided to bring the floating base to the site first, before building the rest of the house on top of it.
The construction process, beginning with the pre-fabrication of the panels, started in mid 2021, van Beerendonk said. By mid 2022, the house was completed.
The owners spent about €350,000, or roughly $380,000, to build the new floating house, including the cost of the materials, van Beerendonk said.
The floating house is anchored to the shore at two points.
"But it's really floating," van Beerendonk said. "There's water underneath the house."
When water levels in the canal change, the house moves along with it — although the change isn't drastic since the waterway isn't immediately connected to the ocean, he said.
"When it rains, of course. And when people in boats are passing by, then it'll move a little bit, but it's not like the sea with the tides," he added.
The timber frame is covered with cork, which gives the building a low carbon footprint.
The waterproof properties of cork ensure the timber frames are protected from the canal water and rain.
The rooms of the floating house are arranged in a row, centered around the living room. The kitchen and dining area are on one end, while the bedroom is on the opposite side.
The original home on the lot — which van Beerendonk estimates to be at least 20 years old — was demolished to make way for the new build.
"The ceiling of the previous house was very low, and it was pretty dark inside. Most materials were not in the best state, I would say," he added.
The new house has a bright, airy feel to it, with big windows, Scandinavian-themed decor, and lots of exposed wood.
One of the most important things the team had to consider when designing the house was its weight distribution.
The design of the house is asymmetrical, van Beerendonk said.
"You have to balance out the weight because otherwise the house, it'll start to rotate in one direction," he said. "And of course, it cannot be too heavy because then the house sinks."
The floating house is hooked up to water pipes, power lines, and a sewage system on land.
The tube that connects the house to its on-land systems is flexible, so it can accommodate slight movements of the house from passing boats, van Beerendonk said.
While this is the first floating house the studio has designed, floating houses and houseboats are a common sight in the Netherlands.
Almost a third of the country lies below sea level, with the lowest point approximately 22 feet below sea level. In addition, 17% of the total land surface is made up of water, per data from the official tourism website for the Netherlands.
There are about 10,000 floating houses and houseboats in the Netherlands, Sander Rutten, the president of Amsterdam's main houseboat association Woonbootvereniging Amsterdam, told Insider.
"Depending on where the houseboat is located, the size, and age of the houseboat, prices can vary from €200,000 to €2 million," Rutten said. "Normally you buy a permit or plot of water with the 'old' boat and replace it by something new."
There are currently five houseboats and floating homes listed for sale in Leiden, on Funda, a popular real-estate platform in the country. Prices range from €495,000 to €775,000, or roughly $540,000 to $846,000.
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