This summer, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced that a developer had been chosen to design and build Britain’s first ‘floating village’.
The ambitious concept for a floating village was first unveiled last year as part of a masterplan to transform London’s Royal Docks. The winning design includes 50 residential homes, a market square, a multi-purpose events space, restaurants, cafes, shops and – yes – office space.
As we’ve reported in recent weeks, demand for workspace in Central London is intensifying. The same goes for residential locations, and following the government’s relaxation of conversion regulations, developers are now snapping up commercial space under plans to hastily transform it into residential use.
In London, space comes at a premium. So when you can’t build out, and you’re restricted from building upwards by tough skyline laws, is building on water the next best thing?
As the London Authority pointed out, floating developments are already a popular idea on the continent. Communities of floating homes can be found at ljburg near Amsterdam and Hafen City in Hamburg, to name just a few.
In Cardiff, architecture firm Gillard Associates have used a floating office on Cardiff Marina since 2010. They’re behind H2Office, which designs and manufactures water-based workspaces. They say: “Given the shortage of attractive, energy efficient office accommodation, and the prospect of rising sea levels with climate change – the idea of floating offices is logical and attractive.”
Their solution is described as “somewhere between a boat and a self-contained pod”, and Gillard Associates say that some of their best and most creative ideas come from working on water.
Once again space is at a premium, and space-saving furniture really comes into play. Perhaps the biggest challenge is movement, as revealed by one Guardian writer who spent the morning on a floating office and found that the effect of surface ripples can be nauseating.
But that’s unlikely to sway the handful of home-owners who are keen to get their hands on London’s hottest new real estate. Whether or not this trend takes off in commercial property remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure; it certainly brings new meaning to floating the company.
Image – Guillard Associates