BYTR Architecten

BYTR Architecten

Rotterdam, NL


Houseboat, Utrecht,The Netherlands

The ParkArk of Hieke and Sietze, located next to a busy cycling route through a park, has been completed. The combination of the publically visible moorage and the client's residential needs were central concerns during this design.


The clients had a number of requests. Firstly, they wanted the ark to be larger than their former one, while maintaining the intimate atmosphere of their former steel ship. Also, they wanted to have the full experience of 'living and floating on the water', though without the application of a hackneyed nautical form language, such as portholes. Finally, they wanted a boat where no one can look in, but at the same time they wanted a full view of the park.


As a visitor, one first approaches the boat over a footbridge, to find a door that barely gives away anything of the interior. Inside, however, a large skylight offers you a view of the treetops, and directly in front of you the park is visible. Opposite the front door is an access to the roof terrace and the mooring for the fishing punt. On either sides are the living and dining room, accessible from the open hall, which is raised one step to give extra ceiling height in the shower.


The facade consists of multiple materials, giving a special appearance. The copper sheets at the bottom nearly touches the water, causing a the boat's reflection to gently blend with the facade. The fenestration establishes a balance between privacy and maximised views of the park. The external staircase connecting to the roof terrace continues the white stucco of the interior, creating the atmosphere of an outdoor room.


The port authority of Utrecht allows  maximum external dimensions of 5 x 16.5 meters, 1 meter depth, and 4 meter above the water level. The design of a floating houseboat provides additional challenges with respect to  structures with foundations. Besides the strict external dimensions there must be a balance in the distribution weight. A heavy bookcase can indeed cause the boat to tilt, and subsequently, this may cause rainwater to accumulate on the roof, furthering the tilt. While not visible from the outside, the houseboats has drainpipes at every corner making this scenario impossible. The  use of 3D models made ​​it possible to develop key details before the execution. A method that is not feasible in every private project.


Almost every design decision hinged on experiential values​​, and not just those of the resident. The clients also thought about the experience of visitors, like the reflection of the facade in the water.

Many houseboat owners have a big "do it yourself" mentality, because that is more or less required for living on the water. Sadly, this does not always produces aesthetically pleasing houseboats. That doesn’t always turns out to beautiful houseboats. This project, though, shows that a carefully balanced design provides added visual aesthetic value in this public place.


Client testimonial:

During the entire process, the collaboration was very pleasant. During the design phase BYTR architects devised many creative ideas and solutions as for the facade material, the placement of windows and the experience of outside in the interior. Also during construction, the architect was involved, always informed on what was happening in the shipyard and maintaining in close contact between different parties. Every day we enjoy our new houseboat: the invading sun, overlooking the water and the monumental bridge, the ornamental grasses from the windows. What a nice home, we are so happy with the result!

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Status: Built
Location: Utrecht, NL
Firm Role: Architect