BY: MATTHEW CHIN
Every sunny weekend, swarms of eager families take to the highway in a mad dash to the cottage. The beachfront cottage is a great getaway for a more relaxing escape, with the added benefits of living next to a body of water including a psychological calming effect that reduces stress. However, having a cottage by the water has its own downfalls also, as it is costly to maintain and often takes up a large amount of space on land.
Italian architect, Giancarlo Zema, designed a home that floats on the water that is both environmentally friendly and practical. It provides all the benefits of a cottage getaway with very little maintenance and without the need to clearcut a lot on the waterfront.
His design, called “WaterNest 100,” is a floating circular home anchored into a body of water that is reachable by walking down the end of a dock. Zema specializes in semi-submerged architecture, where homes or commercial buildings are partially in the water.
The WaterNest was developed by U.K.-based EcoFloLife and is 12 metres in diameter and four metres tall, with about 100 square metres of floor space, including a balcony that overlooks the water. Its entire living space has enough room to fit a family of four—the average American family—with all the amenities of an ordinary house. The home is made of 98 per cent recycled material with locally-sourced laminated timber for the base of the home and a recycled aluminum hull for support.
With the sea levels rising at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year due to global warming, the ability to live conscious of the environment without sacrificing comfort is at the forefront of environmental architecture.
The roof of the WaterNest is covered with 60 square metres of solar panels, covering almost the entire area of the roof. The solar panels generate 4 kWp, which is more than three quarters of the typical electricity needs of a household in the United Kingdom. The floating home could also be converted into an office, restaurant or shop.
The WaterNest also has natural micro-ventilation and air conditioning so it can be classified as a low-consumption home. In addition, the home requires very little maintenance, and is able to anchor in any body of water at least two metres deep. Zema has also designed the furniture to match the organic aesthetic of the home, made with the same recycled timber.
Currently, the floating home can be bought for $550,000, but can also be purchased at a higher price for larger models, although rising consumer demand and continued innovation over time is likely to bring the price tag down.