As a standalone project, Floating House from London-based Carl Turner Architects is a nifty bit of amphibious architecture conceived in direct response to the “underuse of urban waterways and the increasing problems of flooding globally and in the U.K.”

Described as being “part house, part boat” the buoyant two-bedroom abode is a little bit playful, a little bit austere and totally self-sufficient. Semi-translucent “blinkers” or side panels flank the boxy home on two sides, acting as a sort of second protective skin and providing the home with both electricity and hot water thanks to integrated PV and thermal cells. A rooftop rainwater catchment system located atop the crow’s nest observation room harvests non-potable water. Highly insulated and built from timber, the home itself rests inside of an oversized (65-by-22 feet) floating concrete tray that’s surrounded by edible gardens, further allowing its inhabitants to live off the grid and fend for themselves in a pseudo-unmoored state. (To be clear, Float House lacks proper boat parts and is completely stationary.)

So there’s that. Invest in a couple of good kayaks and install a floating sauna a few yards away and you’ve got yourself a lovely water-bound compound. If the weather takes a turn for the biblical, the buoyant home stays nice and dry.

Floating House

But what really helps Floating House stand out — if it didn’t already stand out enough — is the fact that it's an open-source design. As the newest addition to New York City-based architect Joana Pacheco’s Paperhouses, an experimental website that offers residential blueprints to the public via free download, anyone can set out to build their very own Floating House.

Well, anyone who can afford a decent contractor. Floating House, similar to previous designs launched on Paperhouses, appears to be larger and a touch more involved than your run-of-the-mill kit house project that would typically woo the do-it-yourself crowd. Still, a self-build scenario isn't completely out of the question. Whatever the case, Paperhouses, in addition to providing free blueprints, will also help facilitate the building process, recommending local building professionals that can help users realize the floating home of their dreams (all for under $300,000, apparently). “Essentially, we’re making a process that’s generally very long, scary, expensive and complicated something where professionals can help so you can actually enjoy the process,” Pacheco tells Wired in a 2013 interview after the website first launched.

She elaborates in a Paperhouses blog post:

My goal is to put architecture within reach, which means to destitute high-end design of its price tag and forbidden aura, and to engage people in their own project. Universal access via free licensing is the only process which simultaneously makes knowledge accessible, democratic, and amenable to a diversity of production. All things considered, open source makes complete sense.

The idea also sprouted as a response to the challenges of the housing market — corporate dominance, the crises in the US, Europe, Japan, and the unprecedented boom in other parts of the world — by carving a space tailored to the user. Many are surprised to hear that the vast majority of single family homes are not designed by architects. In fact, only about 2 percent of homes are designed. A project that attempts to reach the other 98 percent is a project that will most certainly touch you.

Acting as a kind of high-end, next-gen take on WikiHouse, the pioneering open-source construction system launched in 2011, Paperhouses focuses on decidedly avant-garde – or at the very least, visually arresting — home designs that most would initially dismiss as being expensive, unattainable, completely out-of-reach. And given their open-source nature, the home designs aren’t just on the architecturally adventurous side — they’re also highly customizable so that interested parties can tweak and build upon the original blueprint to their liking, much like they would, let's say, a toothbrush or a beehive.

Floating House

inside Floating House

For starters, there’s Spora Architects’ Folk House, a sustainability-minded reimagining of the traditional Hungarian farmhouse. Mexico City-based architect Tatiana Bilbao’s Module House is a three-bedroom affair composed of cantilevered concrete cubes. Also from Mexico City is Dellekamp Arquitectos’ Imaginary House for Silence, a house that “emerges from the essence of the forest, where towering trees surround and protect the body, creating a magical environment of dappled light in the quiet solitude of nature.”

"We’re trying to bring quality to open source. Architects that you wouldn’t normally call on to do your house are suddenly are very much within your reach,” elaborates Pacheco.

Lots more info over at Paperhouses including some interesting thoughts from Pacheco on sustainable homebuilding as it relates to Floating House. 

Via [Designboom], [Wired]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.