The Earth has more water than land surface, a fact that has led man to design numerous urban development projects on the sea: from The World, the archipelago of artificial islands in the form of a globe in Dubai, to Artisanopolis, a modern Atlantis that they want to build on the waters of French Polynesia.
Anyone who has some knowledge of the real estate sector will be aware of the problems of land shortage for development in Spain, which are causing an increase in prices in some cities. Well, the solution may be right under our noses. The Spanish company Home Aboard, in collaboration with the architectural firm ADOSN, has devised an innovative and luxurious houseboat that could avoid this type of problem on the coast and offer a unique and pioneering kind of accommodation in Spain.
"These houses offer a great opportunity. We are tired of hearing news, especially in the summer, of towns where there is no accommodation, even for the workers who live there. There are places that cannot grow any more because of their location. With this type of housing, this problem could end, as they are in ports and take advantage of all this space," says Manuel Arnau Marín, architect and designer of the first Spanish houseboat.
Why have a house on the beach when you can have one on the sea? The price of this innovative product ranges from 100,000 to 150,000 euro, much lower than most apartments near the coast. "We are not willing to lower the price at the expense of quality. We will try to adjust, but our goal is to offer a resistant and quality home," says Antonio Martínez Sáez, a member of the company's Board of Directors.
"We are talking about a luxury product in terms of design and performance, but not in terms of price. The homes we design have a surface area of between 32 and 54 m2 (345-580 sq ft), in privileged locations. We're not talking about the beachfront, but rather directly on the sea," emphasises Manuel. "The house is in the category of an unmanned and non-motorized floating fixture. It serves more as a house than a boat," he adds.
Specifically, the model that is in the port of Torrevieja – the only one to date, although the developers say they are in negotiations about mass production with large investors – has two bedroom suites, two other bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, a terrace which is more 'normal', and another impressive solarium terrace of 62 m2 or 666 sq ft of useful surface area. In fact, it has more amenities than many traditional homes.
In search of sustainability
If being green is currently in vogue and the location of the product is taken into account, it wouldn’t make sense for these houseboats to be 'old-fashioned'. One of the aspects that has most concerned both Manuel and the project developers has been the sustainability and energy efficiency of the property.
"There are other similar products, but not with the same creature comforts and characteristics. The rest of the markets have specialized in motorised houseboats or having the maximum surface area. We want them to be comfortable and, above all, efficient, sustainable and affordable," stresses Manuel.
With regard to the installations and elements that make it efficient, the houseboat has sanitary hot water panels, solar panels, high quality thermal and acoustic insulation and can obtain aerothermal energy. It comes close to the energy efficiency standards of the Passivhaus, although it does not have this certificate.
The materials used to manufacture the home are carbon fibre, polyester, concrete, galvanized steel, and wood. Thanks to these materials and the careful design, the houseboat enjoys a stability that means it doesn’t even seem to be floating on the sea.
Another of the advantages of this type of housing over traditional models is the construction period, which is reduced to a time of between three and five months, although Manuel points out that it depends on several factors, such as the final location and the number of units ordered. Besides, you don't have to be anchored in one place. With the help of a trailer or tugboat you can relocate it as many times as you want.
Floating housing estates
In many coastal areas of Spain it is no longer possible to build. Apart from the degradation of the landscape and the environment that has already occurred, there is literally no room left to build, so Home Aboard’s properties are a good alternative that is whetting the appetite of international investors, as the project developers told idealista/news. At first glance it may seem strange to live in a port, but in reality it’s just like an ‘urbanización’ residential estate.
"The use we have in mind is for ports as they are like a housing estate and give you a series of services such as parking, security, electricity, water, sports facilities, medical aid and Wi-Fi," says Manuel, who also underlines the possible economic benefit. "If you are in a community of owners, you have to pay community fees and the IBI property tax as the owner, whereas here you are only paying for one mooring point.”
Therefore, Home Aboard is a good option to consider, as most of the sea surface is still an untapped resource and if a port reaches its maximum habitability, more can always be built. "We envision a future of ports full of these properties in Spain and the rest of the world," says Antonio hopefully. The houseboat is currently for rent as a pilot project in the marina of Torrevieja.