A Tiny Houseboat: Blok’s Blokje
About a year ago I designed Blok’s Block, a kind of tiny house XL. A compact home for adventurous urbanites, to be placed on roofs of tall buildings. That Blok was recently joined by a Blokje, a little Blok, a design for a tiny houseboat.
One of the reactions I received on the Block: it is not really a tiny house. There seems to be an unofficial upper limit of 50 square meters for this. Although the Block is relatively compact, it still has a floor space of 65 square meters. Would a smaller variant be possible that does fit within this 50 m² standard?
The dimensions of the Block are based on the two floor heights I wanted to squeeze in it. The height and width automatically follow from that height, as is the case with cubes.
A mini-block that, based on the same logic, is based on one storey height becomes very tiny: 2.6 meters in the square. And that produces just 7 square meters of floor space. Less than the average party tent.
A cube based on one and a half storey height, however, does yield a more viable tiny house. That additional half floor offers space for a loft bed and storage. And it is also nice to have some extra height, especially in combination with a great view.
No matter how small this Blokje (Dutch for little Block) is, you can still walk (and climb) around in it. From the living room you enter the bathroom through the little hallway. At half floor level, above the washing machine and the wardrobe, is the shower cubicle which can be reached with a ladder. From there a next ladder leads to the loft bed. A final ladder takes you back to the ground floor of the living area.
This Blokje, like its big brother, would also feel at home on a high roof. But during the design process, I felt the need to explore other habitats for this tiny house. And so the Blokje eventually became a tiny houseboat.
With its 22 square meters of floor space, the Blokje falls well within the aforementioned 50 m² limit. Even if you add the 6 square meter terrace and the 3 square meter front balcony / bicycle parking.
The Blokje has a light timber-frame construction and is placed on a concrete pontoon. When you make a design for a houseboat, you should of course also study the mechanics of floating constructions. I managed to more or less grasp concepts like draft, torque and modulus of subgrade reaction. But I dropped out when formulas like mc = b² / 12d + ½ d + b² (tan α) / 24d came up. That is a field for which I have to admit I need a real expert. So if the pontoon has to be wider than I’ve drawn, so be it. But this looks like a stable construction to me.
The Blokje also has smart features such as a folding table top and a cooking plate that becomes a kitchen sink that becomes a table that becoms a windowsill. The energy is produced, at least largely, by solar panels and wind turbines on the roof. Rainwater is collected and used to flush the toilet.
Question of conscience
It is the ultimate question of conscience for every architect: would you like to live in the house you designed? Would I like to move to my Blokje, giving up almost three-quarters of my current living space? Yes, I think so, but on one condition: that my tiny houseboat can be located in nice and quiet green surroundings like in the pictures. And not wedged in between a highway, a railroad track and an industrial estate.
Although the Blokje is a design for a houseboat, it’s use shouldn’t necessarily be limited to aquatic environments. Of course it could also be placed on top of a high building, like the Block. But in that case I would make a fence around the terrace.