In Sweden, trash-free land of carbon dieters, it would appear that tarp-covered boats sitting unused on the side of and in the backyards of homes are just as good at irking the neighbors as a rusty old car propped up on cinderblocks.
As noted by VisionDivision — based outside of Stockholm, this is the design studio that introduced us to the idea of pyramidal prefab vacation homes — when Swedish pleasure craft isn't out on the water, it can usually be found “stored on ugly stilts” and “blemishing residential areas in the whole country.”
However, VisionDivision is firm in the belief that at-home boat storage doesn’t have to be unsightly. (Year-round moorage at a marina is apparently expensive and hard to come by.) Instead, why not build an oversized pond in your backyard, plop your watercraft in it and use the boat as a quaint little guest cottage when it’s not at sea?
That, essentially, is the concept behind “Guest Harbor,” a playful — but mostly non-practical — reaction to the rise of the Attefallshus in Sweden.
Attefallshus, you ask? This past July, the Swedish government changed its building code to allow for “supplemental housing” constructed at residential properties without the need for the normal required building permits. That is, if said supplemental housing — be it a backyard studio, a guesthouse, an oversized playhouse, a storage shed or a garage — is under 25-square-meters (270-square-feet).
Although garden sheds, quaint outbuildings and detached cottages are common in Sweden, homeowners who previously shied away from building one because of permits and bureaucratic red tape — the Attefallshus is named after Swedish housing minister Stefan Attefall — are now clamoring to have their own.
VisionDivision however, is of the opinion, that tiny house-craving Swedes should just skip building/buying of an Attefallhus altogether and consider spiffing up their boats instead in an alternative that’s “both cheaper, more fun and also more exclusive than any other permit-free house on the Swedish market.”
Instead, we want you to enjoy your boat and take responsibility for our common cultural treasure that our boats are. We have therefore developed a strategy for how the Swedish boats should be stored and also be given a function when not at sea. We have developed three different types of docks to keep the boat in one's garden that is both smooth, aesthetically pleasing and appropriate to the needs and desires that you have. The result is a completely new typology that has all the prerequisites to become a popular addition to the residential areas all around the country.
To build an Attefallshus, like with most houses, you have to deal with a lot of carpenters, builders and sometimes architects that doesn’t always comply with the clients wishes. This can be frustrating to handle. It is much easier to buy an already built boat instead, where you do not have to make guesses based on complicated drawings and wishful renders, the boat is already there to make an inspection of it before you buy it, and what you see is also what you get.
The problem with a boat is usually to find a port, especially in the larger city areas. But if you have room for an Attefallshus then you probably also have room for a boat on your premise. Having a boat standing on stilts in the garden is ugly and sometimes even unsafe. In our tribute to the boat, we suggest instead that the boat will be in their right element even in your suburb garden. A boat wants to be in the water and the easiest way to solve this is to build a swimming pool in your yard or alternatively an artificial pond beside your cottage or why not a fountain if you own a lavish manor.
VisionDivision goes on to elaborate on the three primary means of at-home boat storage, one being a swimming pool which can be used for, umm, swimming when the floating guesthouse is not in residence: “A cheap alternative is to order a fiberglass pool from Poland or Germany," the studio suggests. "To save even more money, you can make the foundation and install the pool by yourself. It’s not that hard really.”
For larger properties, VisisonDivision thinks an artificial pond would do quite nicely: “An artificial pond also blends very well into a garden environment, where the aquatic plants and the implanted carps will be a nice addition to the plot. With a small sailing boat or a wooden boat you’ll get a perfect guest house and a nice piece of art in the pond which can be illuminated at night.”
And then, for the high-rollers who truly want to show off their prized watercraft, there’s always high-powered front-yard fountains:
The illusion to allow a fountain to lift your boat becomes the absolute proof that you are doing well and it also gives the impression that the boat defies gravity. The boat can not only be seen in your entire neighborhood, it will also splash water on your neighbors and if it is well polished, it will also dazzle the jealous by passing crowd and throw reflections from the sun over the entire block.
And wait — doesn’t the whole beauty of the Attefallshus revolve around the fact that you can now avoid the headache of securing building permits? Wouldn’t constructing a miniature lake in your backyard in which to place a yacht-cum-guest cottage require some sort of permitting?
And what if your existing boat is larger than 25-square-meters? Does this mean you’d have to go out and buy a smaller boat and build a pond or swimming pool to put it in? What if you want a traditional Attefallshus (your frequently visiting mother-in-law is a landlubber) and a swimming pool in which to anchor your sailboat? So many questions!
While decidedly more than a touch on the starry-eyed side, Guest Harbor does make for some intriguing conceptual renderings. The proposal will appear in an upcoming book titled “25 m2” in which various Swedish architects present their unique visions of the Attefallshus, or in this case, the Attefallshus alternative.
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