Step Aboard the Solar-Powered ‘Tesla on the Water’
Innovative design firm Crossboundaries worked with the owner of a 15-by-four meter (approximately 49-by-13 foot) motorboat to transform it into a comfortable, solar-powered “Tesla on the Water.”
You’ve heard of tiny homes, but what about a tiny boat?
“Why not re-design a fully solar-powered motorboat with high-end tiny-home characteristics and create a slow-motion travelling nest?” Crossboundaries asked on their website.
The Fàng Sōng 放松 is the answer. The boat was named by owner Marianne Fries from the Chinese word for “Relax” and took inspiration from Fries’ lifelong desire for a watery retreat.
“For Marianne, the desire to spend time on the water was triggered after spending over 20 years in cities with neither coast nor other significant bodies of water, her last stop before Berlin being Beijing. Purchasing this houseboat in 2020 was the culmination of a life journey,” Crossboundaries explained. “The five-year-old boat caught Marianne’s eye, its exterior’s resemblance to a bus on the water and the potential for the interior design quickly sparked her interest.”
That design, completed in March of 2022, includes an outdoor deck, an inner deck, a living area, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a helmstead with a foldable bed, according to press materials shared by v2com. The kitchen table can also fold up, and the living area includes a couch that transforms into a larger bed as well as a pop-up workspace, according to a press release.
New Atlas notes that the interior square footage of 667 is relatively spacious by tiny house standards. While it was designed for one person in mind, Crossboundaries said it could be a model for sustainable living more broadly.
“While the project was envisioned as a home for Marianne, we also conceived the boat as a unit of the city, which contained a comprehensive set of urban resources,” Crossboundaries co-founder and partner Binke Lenhardt said on the website.
The designers observed that the boat comes as global crises like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic have increased the desire for sustainability, self-sufficiency and mobility. Sales of motorhomes have increased, for example, and houseboats like this are another possible answer to this desire.
Crossboundaries said that the boat had solar panels covering its roof as well as one on each side. New Atlas noted that the panels’ capacity was not listed, but Crossboundaries said the panels were enough to fully power the boat between March and November as well as on sunny days during the winter. On cloudy winter days, the boat can be powered by hooking it up to the electrical grid. It can travel up to 50 kilometers (approximately 30 miles) per day at an average speed of 7 kilometers per hour (approximately 4 miles per hour) when the sun shines. It is designed to move on rivers, lakes and other inland waterways but not on the open ocean, according to Business Insider.
In addition to the 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 unit in the future.
“The integration of these technologies supports the architectural concept, while providing comfort and meeting energy-saving standards that complete the comprehensive design of this ‘tiny home on the water,’” Crossboundaries said. “Ideally, in the future, people can free themselves from too many possessions and embrace denser-but-quality spaces and thus achieve more flexible ways of life.”
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