Over the years, I’ve taken looks at quite a few intriguing, off-the-grid houseboat-ish living arrangements including self-sustaining vessels moored in bodies of waters both repulsive (Brooklyn’s mega-contaminated Gowanus Canal) and enticing (Powell Lake in British Columbia).
Today, here’s a quick peek at a live-work vessel just recently launched on the idyllic (and interestingly, privately owned) Beaulieu River in Hampshire, England. While I suppose it technically qualifies as a houseboat — " 'tethered' like a boat and will rise and fall with the tide" all the while taking on "the patina of 730 daily tides below the water line, and 365 days of weathering by wind, rain and bleaching by the sun above" — it serves more as a "trans-disciplinary project drawing on art and architecture as well as technology and the sciences to transcend individual specialism and work toward a further engagement of [...] visual art practice with contemporary ecological thinking."
Or something like that.
Also, it’s a giant floating wooden egg.
Both “a place to stay and a laboratory for studying the life of a tidal creek,” Exbury Egg was hatched by U.K.-based firms SPUD Group and PAD Studio along with Stephen Turner, an artist who has the distinct pleasure of living aboard the vessel for an entire year “exploring a more empathic relationship with nature which reveals the precious and transcendent in everyday life.” While living aboard the approximately 20-by-10-foot vessel constructed by local boat builder Paul Baker with reclaimed cedar and Douglas Fir, Turner’s cozy accommodations include a desk, hammock, kitchen, solar shower and a small charcoal stove. Water comes from a mainland hose while all the electricity needed to power Turner’s arsenal of gadgets and gizmos is generated through solar panels. The loo, as you were probably wondering, is RV-style situation.
The Exbury Egg website explains how Turner will spend his days:
The artwork created will stem from Stephen’s occupation, developing through direct experience an understanding of local natural cycles and processes and the relationship of the environment to the narratives of human activity in the unending calendar of seasonal life.
The Egg will be my own home beside the burrows of rabbits, the webs of spiders, the nests of birds and the aqueous habitat of fish and molluscs and I will reflect upon how such space is shared and indeed who or what should own it. In an age of hubris and self promotion, I want to provide a voice for mute nature, to be amanuensis to the tides, the terns and the turnstones.
The ‘Exbury Egg’ adopts the two key premises of 'Lean, Green and Clean' and 'Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.' The potential energy requirements during occupation were determined through exploring Stephen’s anticipated daily routines, including a consideration of the variations that would result from seasonal differences. Stephen’s requirements for electricity use including electricity for charging items such as a laptop, digital camera and mobile phone will be met using solar.
This is not a romantic anti-modern back to nature project, where technology is rejected or spurned. Rather it is about demanding the best and most efficient of the new to combine with the tried and tested.
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