Small sun house on the water. Johanna Link
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You’ve heard of tiny houses, but what about a tiny boat?
Innovative design firm Crossboundaries worked with the owner of a 15×4-meter (about 49×13-foot) motorboat to transform it into a comfortable, solar-powered “Tesla on the Water.”
“Why not redesign an all-solar powerboat with high-end tiny home features and create a slow-motion travel pod?” Crossboundaries asked on its website.
Fàng Sōng is the relaxed answer. Owner Marianne Fries took the boat’s name from the Chinese word for “Relax” and was inspired by Fries’s lifelong desire for water recreation.
“For Marianne, the desire to spend time on the water came after more than 20 years of living in cities with no coastline or other significant water bodies, her last stop before Berlin being Beijing. Buying this houseboat in 2020 was the culmination of a life journey,” explained Crossboundaries. “The five-year-old boat caught Marianne’s eye, her water bus-like exterior and interior design potential quickly piqued her interest.”
According to press materials shared by v2com, this design, completed in March 2022, includes an outdoor deck, an inner deck, a living area, a bathroom, a kitchen and a steerage with a folding bed. The kitchen table can also be folded away, and the living area includes a sofa that converts to a larger bed, as well as a work area that opens up, according to a press release.
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New Atlas notes that the interior square footage of 667 square meters is relatively spacious by tiny home standards. Although designed for one person, Crossboundaries said it could be a model for sustainable living more broadly.
“Although the project was conceived as a home for Marianne, we envisioned the boat as a unit that incorporates the comprehensive set of the city,” Crossboundaries co-founder and partner Binke Lenhardt said on the website.
The ship’s designers have observed that global crises such as climate change and the coronavirus pandemic have increased the desire for sustainability, self-sufficiency and mobility. For example, sales of motorhomes have increased, and houseboats like this are another possible answer to this desire.
Crossboundaries said the ship has solar panels covering the roof and one on each side. New Atlas noted that the capacity of the panels was not listed, but Crossboundaries said the panels are sufficient to fully power the ship between March and November, as well as during sunny winter days. On cloudy winter days, the boat can be started by plugging it into the mains. When the sun is shining, it can travel up to 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) per day at an average speed of 7 kilometers per hour (about 4 miles per hour). According to Business Insider, it is designed to navigate rivers, lakes and other inland waterways, not the open ocean.
In addition to solar panels, the boat also has an App-controlled pellet stove for heating, and Friese hopes to install a water purification system and biological sewage treatment plant in the future.
“The integration of these technologies supports the architectural concept while providing comfort and meeting energy efficiency standards that complete the comprehensive design of this ‘tiny house on the water,'” Crossboundaries said. “Ideally, in the future, people can de-clutter and embrace more dense but quality spaces, leading to more flexible lifestyles.”
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Olivia Rosane is a freelance writer and reporter with decades of experience. He has been a daily contributor to EcoWatch since 2018 and also covers environmental topics for Treehugger, The Trouble, YES! Magazine and Real Life. He holds a Ph.D. He holds an MA in English Literature from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Arts and Politics from Goldsmiths, University of London.