Panama SeaPods, Dutch eco-homes and UAE islands — welcome to the world of floating homes

The idea of living on water is growing as bold architects tackle big issues — here are eight global projects making waves

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From Dubai’s Marasi water villas and the Seahorses off the emirate’s coast, to a floating city in the Maldives and the world’s first community of SeaPods in Panama, homes on water are rapidly becoming a reality. The Dutch are largely credited as being the pioneers of this format, and it was an architect from the European nation, Koen Olthuis, who designed the latest crop of pods for Panama’s Ocean Builders.

While one of the Panamanian pods recently experienced a pump malfunction, causing it to tilt, the company was quick to rectify the issue and clarify that it was the lack of a back-up system on the prototype SeaPod that sparked the incident. Not only was nobody injured, but a statement from Ocean Builders read that nobody even got their feet wet.

Whether or not the SeaPods are still on track for December is yet to be seen, but here are eight other floating homes that are cruising along nicely.

Floating Private Island Amillarah the World, Dubai

Designed by Waterstudio, Olthuis's architectural firm, this floating construction is located on the World Islands off the coast of Dubai. According to the Waterstudio website, the firm says: “The island is covered with sand, which gives a beach feeling. It also has a big pool and mooring spot for a yacht. The exterior staircase connects the different terraces of the building, and the open facade of the ground connects the interior and exterior.”

Watervilla, Amsterdam

Another project by Olthuis, the USP of this villa is its pop-up bedroom. The bed is designed to sink into the ground, which then turns the bedroom into a study. The pop-up system demonstrates the flexibility that floating homes can incorporate.

Floating villas, Urk

One-off water properties aside, developers are also looking at creating floating communities. The Dutch municipality of Urk is home to seven large floating villas by ABC Arkenbouw. The glass-fronted, energy-efficient homes are insulated and equipped with solar panels.

Floating homes, the UK

From marine specialists Aquavista come two sets of floating lodges in the UK, one at the Sawley Waterside and Marina in Nottinghamshire and the other at the Priory Waterside and Marina in Bedford. Offering open-plan living areas and wraparound terraces, the two-bedroom homes are located within a gated community and fitted out by specialist UK lodge builders Prestige Homeseeker.

Marina Uno Floating Resort, Italy

Located on the Lignano Sabbiaodoro Riviera, the Marina Uno Resort launched its floating homes project in 2018. The fully equipped two-bedroom homes are located on the part of the property where the Tagliamento river meets the sea.

Floating home, Stockholm

Located in the Pampas Marina close to the Swedish capital's centre, this floating home was built by AquaVilla in 2006. Unusually for a home in constant contact with water, it is made of aluminium and wood panelling, which are nevertheless restricted to the exterior, and also comes with a hot tub.

Lausitz Geierswalder Resort, Germany

Located in the Elsterheide municipality at the heart of the Lusatian Lake District, this resort offers a collection of module house arks that rest on top of an “unsinkable” pontoon. Each 97-square-metre home spans two decks, with the lower featuring a dining area, kitchen and bathroom, while the upper deck has sleeping quarters and a furnished sun area.

Float House IV, Oregon

Floating on the Willamette River, this home is dominated by windows, all the better to capture 360-degree views of Portland's rolling waters. The owners need not fear about an invasion of privacy though, as design firms Integrate Architecture and Even Construction have fitted in peekaboo fencing as well as glass block in lieu of clear sheets.

Scroll through the gallery below to see the SeaPods making waves in Panama

Updated: October 13, 2022, 7:15 AM