Latvian Firm Adds Sustainability To Floating Homes

While winter holds the northern hemisphere in its icy grip, here’s a design to bring you right back to the lazy days of summer by the lake. Latvian firm NRJA  (which stands for “No Rules, Just Architecture”) has designed a small, sturdy house that will feel right at home bobbing directly on the water.

With simple forms reminiscent of the “ice houses” that tend to spring up on frozen lakes across the frigid areas of North America and Europe during winter, these barn-like structures are meant to be inhabited year-round: Once the ice melts, they are designed to float at their moorings.

Image via NRJA

Image via NRJA

Called the Floating Barn, the design includes a common living space, a bathroom and a small deck on the first floor. The second floor includes room for a small sleeping area, plus a tiny balcony that is accessed by a door in the roof.

Schematic showing some of the sustainability feature of the Floating Barn. Image via NRJA.

Schematic showing some of the sustainability feature of the Floating Barn. Image via NRJA.

Details on the design are still sketchy, but according to an NRJA diagram published in Designboom, the pontoon base of the structure will include several internal storage tanks to store clean water, diesel fuel and filtered greywater. The schematic also apparently includes an outlet for “processed water,” but does not include details about a water purification system.

Artist's impression of Latvia's Floating Barn in a colder, icebound time of year. Image via NRJA.

Artist’s impression of Latvia’s Floating Barn in a colder, icebound time of year. Image via NRJA.

The plans call for the use one kind of wooden material for both the walls and roofs, giving the finished house a modern, homogenous look, as if the entire structure was cut from one block. On the deck side, the side wall is made of glass to provide views of the water and to let in natural light. The overhanging roof also provides shade for the long summer nights of Northern Europe.

For inspiration, the NRJA architects looked at old fishing shacks that used to line the riverbanks in the Baltic Sea port of Pavilosta, Latvia. Rather than building on the land directly, however, the modern NRJA buildings would be tied to piers on the water. This would allow the homes to be easily towed to other docks, if needed, or grouped together in a floating community.

Randy Woods is a Seattle-based writer and editor with 20+ years of experience in the business publishing world. A former managing editor of Seattle Business, iSixSigma, Claims and Waste Age magazines, he has covered topics that include newspaper publishing, entrepreneurism, green businesses, insurance, environmental protection and garbage hauling (yes, really). He also contributes to the Career Center Blog for The Seattle Times and edits a photography magazine called PhotoMedia. When not working, he likes to hide out in Seattle movie theaters and attend film festivals—even on sunny days.