Sustainable Development

Meet 'The Float', a green-roofed floating home made from cork and timber

Homes floating on water.

The built environment makes up about 40% of total global emissions - sustainable floating homes could be one solution. Image: Unsplash/Nastya Dulhiier

Paige Bennett
Writer, EcoWatch
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Netherlands

  • 'The Float' is a sustainable home that floats on water.
  • Designed by a Dutch firm, the house uses renewable materials and processes to help reduce construction-related emissions.
  • The built environment makes up about 40% of total global emissions, so designing sustainable buildings like The Float is essential for the construction and building industry, say experts.

Studio RAP, an architecture firm based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, has unveiled a project called The Float, a sustainable home that floats on water. Designed for a private client, The Float is primarily constructed from cork and timber, and the building sports a green roof on top for added eco-cred.

“Our client asked us to design an innovative and sustainable floating home along the picturesque canals in the historical city of Leiden (NL),” Studio RAP said in a project statement. “Our design for the main mass is based on the idea that the house could be a series of atmospheres representing functions of living that at the same time avoid a single floating container appearance.”

A floating home with furniture and plants inside and a boat opposite.
The unique design is inspired by origami. Image: Riccardo De Vecchi/Eco Watch

The building is made up of smaller modules that face nature views for the clients to enjoy from their canal location. The unique design is inspired by origami, and it also helped reduce the amount of materials needed compared to conventional structures. The Float is made from cross-laminated timber (CLT), which the Climate Trust says can reduce the carbon footprint of new buildings. Studio RAP and the project’s structural design team, Summum Engineering, collaborated on the design of the walls and roof folds to reduce the amount of timber needed for the project by over 2,000 kilograms.

While CLT is left exposed on the interior, the outside of The Float is clad in cork, which is a renewable material and boosts insulation properties of the building. There is a low-density cork used as an insulation layer, which is bonded to a high-density cork outer layer by a cork mortar layer. The cork exterior helps blend the floating building into its lush surroundings, and a green roof also improves insulation and adds a touch of nature to the design.

A floating home being built with tractors behind it.
The Float is clad in cork, a renewable material which boosts the insulation properties of the building. Image: Riccardo De Vecchi/Eco Watch

Designing sustainable buildings like The Float is essential for the construction and building industry. According to nonprofit Architecture 2030, the built environment makes up about 40% of total global emissions, from constructing buildings to operating them. Using sustainable materials and processes can help reduce construction-related emissions, while designing for better insulation and natural light can help minimize ongoing, operational emissions. Reducing building emissions will be key to meeting Paris Agreement goals and limiting warming to 1.5°C.

“Sustainability was central in this digital workflow and guided most design decisions, in this way the project aspires to push the industry further with sustainable architecture and look beyond the use of conventional construction materials and methods,” Studio RAP said.

Inside the floating home on water.
The building is made up of smaller modules that face nature views. Image: Riccardo De Vecchi/Eco Watch
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