The Netherlands’ cardboard floating houses, Wikkelboats, could be a housing solution for areas with limited space

Tiny cardboard houseboats might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re seen as a housing solution in the disused ports of the Netherlands.

The Wikkelboats – or “wrap boats” in English – used for short-term accommodation are a quirky addition to the Rotterdam landscape, 73 kilometers southeast of the country’s capital, Amsterdam.

The floating houses are made of 1.2 meter long cardboard segments weighing 500 kilograms each.

Rest assured, the cardboard is coated with a waterproof layer and a layer of wood.

The segments are also modular, so the length of each house can be extended or reduced.

And the use of cardboard offers both excellent thermal and acoustic properties.

They are positioned on a floating pontoon.

Wikkelboat director Sander Waterval said he believes the uniqueness of the “floating homes” is not just the use of cardboard, but also the use of other recycled materials and solar panels.


“So it’s really about the construction process, but it’s also about the use,” Waterval said.

“If you have a very limited space in the Netherlands and, in particular, in Rotterdam as a growing and bustling city. Then you also look for places where people can go on the water and things like that.

“And it’s also that the square meters are used in a very multifunctional way.

The houses all have a bathroom, a separate bedroom, folding beds built into the wall and a fold-out television.

And, in the same space-saving strategy, there’s also a hidden hot tub.

“You don’t see it during the day. You just sit on the jacuzzi deck because it’s below deck,” Mr Waterval said.

Founded four years ago, Wikkelboat – which is also the name of the company – has seven of its houseboats in the port of Rijnhaven, Rotterdam.

The houses vary from 32 to 42 square meters, accommodating four to six people.(Wikkelboat, Justin Nederkoorn via AP)

There are two more houseboats on the Dieze river in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the capital of the North Brabant region.

Wikelboats could also be part of a planning solution to develop Dutch cities on water.

A flagship example is the floating building of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) in Rotterdam.

It is the largest floating office in the world, moored in the port of Rijnhaven, and illustrates the need for climate adaptation.

Vera Bauman – who works on the ‘Water in the Municipality of Rotterdam’ project – said that with all of its inner city ports disused, the city wanted to connect water to areas behind the old ports.

A shot of the floating houses river.
Wikkelboats are used for business events like meetings and team building workshops instead of traditional offices.(Wikkelboat, Justin Nederkoorn via AP)

“So we are now thinking about developing the city in connection with water,” she said.

For overnight stays, Wikkelboat charges between 250 euros ($370) and 350 euros ($520) per night.

The company is planning new projects in various Dutch and Belgian cities with old ports that aspire to a new purpose.


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