Wet rooms: The world’s most beautiful boathouses - Architecture - Arts and Entertainment - The Independent

Wet rooms: The world’s most beautiful boathouses

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

For thousands of years, man has migrated towards the banks of the world's waterways in search of settlement, drawn by the fertile land and ample drinking supplies – not to mention improved conditions for trade, and the possibility of relatively free movement between distant lands. But, as the earliest residents soon discovered, the shore-side life wasn't all plain sailing. Dirty or salty water conditions together with harsh weather – all part and parcel of life in an exposed location – made for some challenging conditions too. The ravaging effect of constant exposure to the elements, for one, posed a serious threat to that vital resource for waterside communities far and wide: their boats.

And so it was that the first boathouses were born, several centuries ago. It's not entirely surprising, perhaps, that the first of these hastily constructed shelters could be described as little more than functional – and in some cases, they were barely even that. Thrown together using scrap wood, the earliest structures were designed to be used only as long as they were needed, and in one spot, where they'd be patched up along the way, to be dismantled again and the materials re-used once they'd served their purpose. Oh, how times have changed.

In the intervening years, having captured the imaginations of some of the world's leading architects, as well as various equally visionary landowners, the humble boathouse has undergone a radical transformation. With the help of huge advances in construction technology and greater access to any number of materials, today, along various banks, swamps, shores and ports worldwide, these once little-loved sheds have metamorphosed into breathtaking residences which are, frankly, too good for simply housing a boat – as a new book, Boathouses by Adam Mornement, attests.

On his search for the world's most glorious waterside structures, the author came across the Muskoka Boathouse (pictured right) in Canada, two hours' drive north of Toronto. Located at the edge of a dense forest and a giant lake, it consists of one outdoor and two indoor slipways, as well as a bedroom, sitting room, two bathrooms, and an adjoining guest cabin with kitchenette. There are also several porches and terraces, and a moss garden planted with local species. The design simultaneously reflects the local aesthetic of pioneer log cabins and hand-crafted timber boats.

Not far from there, on an outcrop of pink-tinged granite – part of a three-acre island on Lake Huron, Ontario – Mornement found the Floating Boathouse (above). This two-storey home had been built on the site of a dilapidated structure. Today, the ground-floor comprises a wet dock open to the lake, a sauna and storage room, with a large living area, two bedrooms, kitchen and an office above.

Further afield, in the Austrian town of Fussach, boating enthusiasts reside in a series of houses along the banks of the canalway (left). The Arc (right) at Muuratsalo in Finland, meanwhile, might operate solely as a boat shelter, but it protects none other than the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto's boat, and the attention to detail – such as the way the silhouette of the trees falling against the wood mimics sunlight dancing on the surface of the lake – makes this glorified shed markedly less humble than its rain-battered forebearers.

'Boathouses' by Adam Mornement, £30, is published by Frances Lincoln Limited

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Strictly Come Dancing 2014 contestants and their professional dance partners open the twelfth run of the celebrity ballroom contest

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin teaches Clara to shoot an arrow
doctor who
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week