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Back in 2006, the city of Hamburg okayed ten moorings for houseboats for Germany’s very first aquatic community. It’s part of “Living and working on the water,” an initiative that encourages German cities to use local waterways for urban development. This doesn’t mean that anyone with a boat and a mattress can simply pull in and tie up to the pier. This is Germany, after all, where things are organized; So to kick things off Hamburg held the competition “Houseboats on the Eilbek Canal,” which challenged prospective houseboat owners to submit creative ideas for two of the mooring sites. Out of the 400 entries, 10 winners were finally chosen, most of whom were architects.
For anyone who has ever fantasized about living on a houseboat, these are truly dream homes. Modern, and sleek with large, glass windows, beautiful materials and outdoor decks complete with gardens, all ten houseboats were designed without constraints from the city. “One-of-One,” the canal’s most sci-fi-inspired boat, comes in just under 450 square feet. The hard-edged exterior belies a cozy interior, something architect Thorsten Freier achieved by using solid wood and raw materials. While sci-fi’s not my style, I’d gladly settle into any of these. With access to Hamburg just behind you and a river view in front, what more could a nature-hungry city dweller ask for?
The project has received lots of support from local residents and city officials alike. More houseboats are scheduled follow, and 22 new houseboats have been scheduled in the Hamburg-Mitte district later this year.