With oceans, lakes, and rivers taking up a major chunk of the Earth’s surface, it was only a matter of time before structures typically reserved for land began to make their way to the water. As far back as the early 1900s — and likely earlier — the concept of creating a house on water began taking shape, popping up in water-friendly cities such as Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Portland, Oregon (DT’s home, sweet home). Over the years, countries like Zimbabwe, India, and Laos have utilized houseboats to entertain tourists, travel from city to city, or simply enjoy some time spent off land.
While there still exists a community of these traditional houseboats, the market for lavish floating homes is at an all-time high. This new crop of luxurious, contemporary, and — at times — outrageous floating homes took the real estate world by storm, and we’ve found 11 of our absolute favorites from around the globe. With most of these designs coming from the minds of brilliant architects the world over, the following homes are truly works of incredible art and stunning construction.
The Fennell Residence — Portland, Oregon
At first glance, it’s clear famed architect Robert Harvey Oshatz put his unique design touch on this spectacle of a houseboat. Seated on the scenic Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, the Fennell Residence features clever use of glulam timber beams, giving it a warm, cozy interior. The living and dining rooms directly face the river and feature expansive glass windows that have the ability to perfectly capture a gorgeous sunset.
A lofted master bedroom sits above this residence’s study and also looks out over the living room and into the Willamette River. Oshatz played perfectly with this houseboat’s spatial differentiation, giving it an incredibly stunning curvilinear form, which makes it a wonder, no matter the time of day.
Floating Seahorse — Dubai, UAE
This unique series of houseboats, known as the Floating Seahorses, is constructed as part of the Heart of Europe, a crazy, man-made archipelago resort in — where else? — Dubai. The base model (pictured above) will run you a cool $2.8 million, with more extravagant versions ranging up to $12 million. The three-story structures include a hot tub, a sunbathing area, and a raised observation deck, and (probably the coolest part) the bedroom and bathroom are located below deck, so you can observe the life aquatic whenever you please.
The Heart of Europe is still under construction, but the Kleindienst Group (responsible for the construction of the resort and the houseboats) expects it to be one of the most in-demand tourist destinations on the planet. For now, you’ll have to access your Floating Seahorse via private plane or boat. Boo-hoo.
The Floatwing — Coimbra, Portugal
This beaut of a houseboat, known as the Floatwing, was created by a group originally affiliated with the University of Coimbra. The group has since rebranded as Friday, though it’s still comprised of the same naval architects, engineers, and industrial designers as before. The team specializes in the very specific niche market of personal submarines and prefabricated floating homes, and constructs made-to-order houseboats that vary between 33 and 59 feet in length.
While some of the more deluxe Floatwing packages include a solar-powered motor, even the regular homes are built to be self-sufficient for at least a week. Personal BatSub sold separately.
Traumfänger — Hamburg, Germany
Though more of a glorified barge than a true houseboat due to its immobility, this gorgeous structure comes from the brilliant minds at Hamburg’s own Rost Niderehe architecture firm. Rost Niderehe put its signature modern touches in every corner of this houseboat, which touts gorgeous timber siding, an open back deck, and private bedrooms and bathrooms.
Constructed in 2011, this home won the architecture firm a smattering of construction awards and recognition for its gorgeous style and sleek exterior finish. This beauty resides in the Eilbek Canal in Hamburg, Germany, and likely won’t acquire a new address any time soon, since it requires the help of a tugboat to get around.
Port X — Prague, Czech Republic
This unique houseboat comes courtesy of the ambitious Port X project. The C-shaped design helps create the floor, roof, and rear wall of the structure, and a glass facade encloses the building with an unobstructed view of the River Vltava.
The sleek, modern design also serves as a wonderful contrast to the surrounding rotunda and Romanesque architecture of the city, while its intuitive design allows for easy assembly, deconstruction, and relocation. You can even tow the amphibious home down river, or rent it on Airbnb alongside three other guests for a cool $235 a night or a single occupancy rate of $193.