Are steel canalboats a sensible design for living?

If you live afloat on UK waterways you are likely to live in something boat shaped, even though many craft rarely leave their mooring, and boats with high hull sides and small windows are not the best shape for making a home in. Maybe we should take a leaf out of the Dutch book and build more floating homes that are comfortable and efficient to live in and actually enhance their surroundings.

Haarlem Shuffle house boat

On the Spaarne River in Haarlem in North Holland a firm of architects vanOmmeren-architecten based in Amsterdam has just completed an energy neutral floating home called the ‘Haarlem Shuffle’. The boat lies alongside the Spaarne close by the historic city centre of Haarlem and is designed to enhance its surroundings making the most of the bright open living spaces, as well as create a comfortable and efficient home environment.

haarlem_shuffle1The sustainable build and high-end detailing also makes this floating home stand out from its neighbouring house boats. It has a roof filled with solar panels and two heat pumps to guarantee comfortable and energy neutral living. There is no gas connection on board.

An attractively textured facade uses wood cladding bordered by a slim aluminum roof trim and around the large south facing patio style windows. The boat has a distinctive appearance thanks to the use of mainly natural cladding materials.

The main level (above right) has a large light-filled open plan living and kitchen area plus master bedroom with en-suite bathroom and a small office area. There is also a compact outdoor ‘terrace’ where a dinghy can be moored for the daily commute!

According to the architects ‘The owner and client Lex is not impressed easily. Having lived in historical homes with high ceilings near the Spaarne for all of his life, Lex decided he wanted this quality of living, but now in the Spaarne river. After the structural completion in 2015, Lex spent another three years on the interior build finalizing all of his detail wishes.’

There is also a lower level with two more bedrooms, bathrooms and a music room. However this requires considerably more draught than would be possible on most of our canals!


Our thanks to vanOmmeren-architecten for the information about the Haarlem Shuffle, there is more about this project and others on their website
Also thanks also to Eva Bloem for permission to use her images

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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