Forget villas, chateaux and mansions, unlock your inner bohemian and invest in a designer houseboat. Andy Round goes with the flow.
Even in these economically challenged times what sort of home does US$2 million get you? A box on Hong Kong Island, a garden shed in Chelsea or perhaps half a basement in the Upper East Side? Forget all that. I’d like to suggest an alternative, one that offers 360-degree views in the heart of a capital of your choice, a five-minute walk to the most fashionable clubs, boutiques and restaurants. I’d like to suggest you liquidate your assets and buy a city centre houseboat.
You know it makes sense. Any decent city has a river or waterfront, all you need is the houseboat to make the most of it. “It’s a seductive concept,” says Russell Day, director of River Homes in the UK. “Imagine finishing work, walking 10 minutes to your houseboat, changing out of your suit, enjoying the sun go down from your deck and then being rocked to sleep by the lull of the water.”
And there is a world of choice out there, particularly if you decide to have a contemporary houseboat created for you that’s chic, cheerful and loaded with the latest eco-essentials. Take Flo Florian and Sascha Akkermann of German design company Confused-Direction, for example. They market their stylish flexible floating ‘home spaces’ known as Silberfisch through schwimmhausboot.de with prices starting from just €150,000. “Our concept was to build a houseboat that never leaves the shoreline but has all the beauty of a land-based loft space,” Akkerman says. “The space can be customised according to use, but the open minimalist design is perfect for a houseboat. The light is accentuated by glass features and white interiors.”
Akkermann also offers models with a patio or even a rooftop lawn. The boat’s green credentials don’t stop there. Reclaimed wood is used wherever possible and energy-saving devices have been incorporated to minimise water waste. “With the cost of living in large cities rising there is a constant search for good value accommodation,” Akkermann says. “We believe Silberfisch is a realistic alternative.”
But if you have the money, why restrict yourself to one floating home, why not commission a whole water community. Earlier this year, Finnish company Marina Housing revealed plans for a range of floating ‘opportunities’ at the international architectural fair Cityscape in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Among the design concepts unveiled were floating libraries, restaurants, shops, concert stages and even a heli-terminal.
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