Many fortunate souls escape to waterfront destinations for vacation, but some are lucky enough to reside in maritime abodes year-round. Floating houses have been around for ages; as sea levels rise, we’re sure to see a proliferation of seaworthy dwellings for those who build homes close to waterways. To inspire your nautical-living lust, we’ve collected some of the most innovative floating houses this side of the "no wake" zone.
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- 11 Floating Homes That Really Deliver On Best Water Views
11 Floating Homes That Really Deliver On Best Water Views
At Home on the Water
MOS Architects' Prefab on Pontoons
Rather than building at Lake Huron’s edge, MOS Architects raised this Canadian house atop a system of steel pontoons. The floating structure allows the house to seamlessly adapt to the water’s constantly changing levels. To work around the difficulty of construction in a remote site, the house was prefabricated and floated to its current location.
Steeltec37 on the Lake
A vacation rental in the Lusatian lake district of Germany, Steeltec37’s design appropriately resembles an inflated sail. With no trees to offer shade and a strong reflection off the water’s surface, sliding slatted screens mitigate the abundance of light that floods this floating home. A sturdy steel skeleton withstands constant exposure to the elements.
Muskoka Floating Cabin
In a renovation of an existing boathouse in Ontario, Canada, architect Christopher Simmonds took equal advantage of lake vistas and the tree-filled shoreline. Rustic materials applied to the geometric exterior create a structure that fits in with its natural surroundings. The floors and detailing make use of the water-friendly properties of ipe wood to give the house the feel of a floating cabin.
Bercy Chen Boathouse
Bercy Chen Studio equipped this beautiful Texas boathouse with a built-in waterfall and 360-degree views of Lake Austin and the surrounding hills of the nearby Canyonlands Preserve. The second level offers shade for the boat slip below, and a beach area allows children to play below the waterfall. A house for all ages!
A boatyard serves as the backyard for this community of nine boat houses in Horning, Norfolk, England. LSI Architects used metal cladding and cedar shingles on the exteriors to mirror the site's industrial heritage. Living spaces sit on the upper level to capture the surrounding views. Each home has its own mooring—all aboard!
Yellowknife Floating Home
If you’re not sure your sea legs could stand up to life on the water, a vacation at the Yellowknife Floating Home in Canada might help you decide. An exercise in living off the grid, this boathouse boasts a solar generator–powered battery bank that limits the use of electricity on board. The house sits like an island in Great Slave Lake; guests are ferried between the mainland and the home by boat.
Willamette River House
The tiniest home on this list at just 433 square feet, this Portland, Oregon, river house, designed by Studio Hamlet Architects, had to contend with a few marina ordinances and fire restrictions. But every cloud has a silver lining: The requirement for access from all sides yielded a spacious wrap-around deck. The corrugated rooftop, however, was selected for looks alone—it echoes the rippling water below.
Both water- and eco-friendly, the Schwimmhausboot by the German design firm Confused-Direction sits landside with zero emissions. Made from salvaged 250-year-old larch wood, this floating home is equipped with a patch of green roof—perhaps for those moments when the homeowners find themselves missing dry land.
Swedish prefab builder Kenjo constructed this floating cabin with locally sourced materials. Solar panels on the roof and energy-efficient windows give the structure its eco-friendly waterfront design. Equipped with a motor and slatted exterior, the structure is both mobile and modern.
The Marina Housing community under construction in Pori, Finland, takes its design cues from the vernacular architecture of boat sheds—which means lots of wood and black pitched roofs. The village is aiming for LEED certification by implementing heat-recovery technology and solar panels for reduced energy consumption.
For more unusual houses, consider: