Floating House at Number 1, The Thames, is an unusual place at which Airbnb users can win a night's stay as part of a promotional contest – not unlike the former KLM aircraft that we featured last year. Marketing aside, though, it is also an impressive feat of construction.
Inside, the Floating House has two bedrooms, a bathroom and a living room. Not only that, but it has a garden outside complete with dog kennel and wisteria.
The house was designed by twin brothers Steve and Nick Tidball, of the TBWA advertising agency. According to Airbnb, they were briefed to create something that would enable guests to see the city in a different way. The design will not only provide views of London from its famous river, but references the city's townhouse architecture.
Consideration was given, in particular, to how the house would look standing alone. It was decided that the "picturesque homes of Primrose Hill and Hampstead" and even some influence from Pixar's animated film Up would give the "fairy-tale" look which was being aimed for.
Despite appearing to have two floors from the outside, the house actually has only one. It is made from six steel shipping containers that have been clad in wood and is built upon a floating base. By using a uni-float pontoon as the base instead of more conventional steel barges, it was easier to create a shape that would accommodate both the building itself and the accompanying garden.
The house walls and garden extend below the waterline, in part to mask the base upon which they are floating. The floor in the house itself, meanwhile, is raised over 1.5 m (4.9 ft) higher than it would be in a normal house, again so that the base can be contained and hidden underneath the structure.
There are some clever touches in order to provide all the facilities required for hosting guests. Water tanks hidden beneath ensure that guests are able to have showers, and outlet pipes are routed through the dog kennel in the garden. There is a generator hidden in the roof to provide power.
The whole structure was prefabricated off-site and assembled on the water using a floating pontoon and cranes. As per Port of London Authority requirements, it is not self-propelled, but instead has a hidden mechanism for being towed. A tug boat is used for towing, but is kept at a 30-m (98-ft) distance to help maintain the illusion of an independently floating home.
According to Airbnb, this is the first time a structure of this style has been allowed on the Thames. It was launched yesterday and will remain on the Thames until Friday. More information is available in the following video.