“Like a Houseboat” home floats above former landfill on steel stilts


March 19, 2013

The house is “floated” on 60 foot (roughly 18 meter) steel stilts, supported by concrete piers (Photo: Charles Davis Smith)

The house is “floated” on 60 foot (roughly 18 meter) steel stilts, supported by concrete piers (Photo: Charles Davis Smith)

Image Gallery (18 images)

Alongside the use of sustainable building materials, and innovative energy-saving techniques, another step in reducing a new home’s impact on the environment can be to build upon land once considered undesirable for human habitation. The “Like a Houseboat” property by Shipley Architects ticks all three boxes, with steel stilts enabling the single-family residence to be built upon poor-quality soil once home to a landfill.

Bringing to mind the Edgeland Residence property we previously reported on, "Like a Houseboat" also sees unappealing land reclaimed for building a home upon – in this case a former landfill site. However, the land for this particular project was impractical for supporting a building of any significant size, as the loose soil has an unsuitably low bearing capacity.

There are several potential solutions to such a challenge, but the proposal put forward by Shipley Architects was both novel and cost-effective – the team “floated” the house on 60 foot (roughly 18 meter) steel stilts, supported by concrete piers. This approach is said to have reduced the impact of the construction on the recovering landscape.

As you can see from the gallery photos, the house sits relatively close to the ground, appearing to float just above the surface. This, in addition to a gangplank-like metal ramp which provides access to the home, combined to inspire its appealing moniker.

Shipley Architects incorporated several 2 x 12 inch (5 x 30 cm) wooden planks – salvaged from the same dance floor once used by the owners at their wedding party – into the main floor frame, and pressure-treated wood was used as a siding material. A geothermal heating system is also tasked to keep the temperature at a comfortable level with a minimum of energy.

The 1,490 square-foot (138 square-meter) "Like a Houseboat" residence has achieved LEED Platinum status and is located on Urban Reserve, Dallas, a development of 50 modern homes individually designed with energy efficiency in mind.

Source: Shipley Architects via Archinect

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

I think that is really nice. I would not mind living there. It shows going green does not mean living without the necessities; IMO. :)


Reasonable idea, but to call it a 'houseboat' surely you would use a cement box, or hollow pad to literally 'float' on the soil? A little over a full house size shallow box below cellar level would support probably two levels of house upstairs with no stability worries.

The Skud

re; The Skud

It looks like it could just wonder off on a whim like a houseboat, unlike your decidedly conventional foundation.


Isn't one of the other problems with building on landfill the possibility of toxic gasses from the degrading fill material? Presumably this was not a household waste land fill, but that opens the possibility of industrial contaminants and what not. Also, wouldn't it be more cost effective to build a conventional house not on landfill and use the land fill area as a nature reserve or parkland within an estate? One of the prime reasons more people aren't sensitive to the environment is because often the solutions put forward are impractical and/or expensive.


Too labor intensive.

Len Simpson
Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles