The housing market in Sweden has created an economic inequality between generations and as a result home-ownership has become unreachable for many. Citizens have instead found their solution in a floating mobile society called “FloatHub!” in order to achieve a long-term economic and residential security.
This is achieved through the co-operative Float Trust where residents themselves become developers and owners through a collective action. The Float Trust manages and builds the collective’s necessary typologies using CNC technology where each built typology enables a self-sufficient mobile lifestyle on water.
The main idea is to maintain the flexibility of a mobile lifestyle on water through a catalogue of typologies that benefits the floating community. Each typology generates values to the community and acts as a generator that enables affordability and possibilities, as they create a network of reliance between FloatHubs. All typologies are technically mobile, but it is only the Floating Factory, Recycle Hub and Restaurant-Boat that are mobile by own force.
The implementation strategy begins on the so called ‘Pirate Harbour’.It is already a well-known location for both being a home for boaters and illegal mooring in the central of Stockholm. In January 2018 the municipality decided to demolish the pier.
Each step of the implementation is achieved with the Floating Factory through the Float Trust. With the use of the Wikihousing-systemWRENit allows each user to modify and costume future needs. The community would connect to a pier, its main relation to land. This also establishes a relationship between those living on land and water. The construction of social communal spaces is crucial as it gives a sense of belonging and community between the residents. With the continuous use of the Floating Factoryall furniture construction and workshops enablesa platform that connects both existing boat communities, boat associations and future boat dwellers.
The existence of resources within the communities enables an economy where any surplus generated is recycled back. This allows long-term affordability on behalf of the mobile community. Vital activities are: production, recycling and vending. As a result, the users demonstrate that they are in no need of municipal systems and developers as they can deal with the issues on their own.
What prompted the project?
Everything started with my own position in society.
As a young adult I have been struggling to find an accommodation in the city of Stockholm. The lack of affordable housing and long housing queues alongside staggering housing prices, has made the dwelling into a commodity rather than a right. This has created a financial inequality between generations who are forced to accommodate to the current housing market, something I amongst others are unable to do.
However, this all changed as my partner and I bought a sailboat for a minimal amount of money. This was our first step towards ownership and independency; a way of owning and be freefrom being burdened with loans and debts. For the first time, we could call something our own home, and we were not the only ones. With the main motivation of freedom, citizens are willing to live smaller and more mobile as seen in trending Tiny house movement. Exhibiting itself as tiny houses, trailers, reshaped vehicles and houseboats, the question I asked myself was, could this lifestyle choice be a solution?
But as the mobile dwelling is constantly challenged through legislation it contributes to the already vulnerable situation, making this choice a temporary solution. For me it was an interesting way of entering the project, meaning to identify the limitations and possibilities. Entering the project I started asking questions like, how can we create a new framework to obtain a home? Can we take the benefits from living mobile? And more importantly, can we use the vulnerability of the situation to create financial and residential security through a collective action? In my eyes, it was time to explore the mobile dwelling to become more than a temporary solution.
How do you see the project developing in the next 30 years?
Over the years, mobile living has both been used as a solution to continuous housing crises but also responded to individual needs. In this case, over the next 30 years I see its role has changed into responding to a larger collective that contributes to an even more vibrant and resilient city.
The project would continue enabling new economies, allowing citizens to work remotely and expanding a network of resources that goes beyond the restricted ‘leisure landscape’ of mobile living as we know it today. Also, the mobility of the project would not be limited to water but extend to the use of land. Consequently, demonstrating freedom in a landscape of possibilities for people to set up their lives as they would like, whether it is on water or land. The development of the project would in that sense be a part of a transformation for mobile residents to cross infinite borders, blurring boundaries and having the world as your home.
What informed the different typologies of restaurant, factory etc - how will these develop through time according to peoples needs and with our changing economy and necessities?
Each typology is an asset for each community, but It also becomes an operational part of the city. For instance, a factory, restaurant and recycling station are already an integral part of society but represents different values in the project. In this case, the factory works as a provider for users to set up the conditions in how to achieve a mobile lifestyle and self-governance. The restaurant boat worked in that sense as a mediator of the results achieved in Floathub, such as; food production, self-sufficiency and community formation. Moreover, as mobile living is connected to social stigmas it was necessary to create several platforms that facilitate and invite society in order to overcome these issues. The Recycle Boat was necessary for the management of waste and disposal. It acts as a way to demonstrate that the dwellers of Floathub communities will not be dependent on society, but instead deals with it on their own. It also becomes a part of a circular economy that benefits the boat community as everything produced and consumed becomes an asset.
When it comes to the aspect of time and the development of each typology, I don’t see any limitations in aesthetic nor their function. When considering the construction of sailboats, each part of it has a well thought out function and concept. The same rule applies here, whether the typologies keep on growing, obtains add-ons or even changes appearance.
How do you envision the idea of a community within these flexible and movable elements?
I see that the network of reliance and exchanges between communities supports the community formation in many ways and in many scales. For instance, the flexible elements are used as tools to achieve self-governance, sharing of assets and knowledge. Everyone can take part of these platforms, either in using them as they circulate between Floathubs, locally between users in a Floathub community or in the participatory building process of them.
To what extent would the housing market be affected by this?
I would say, a lot! Through my proposal I argue that the solution of the Swedish housing crisis lies in bringing back creativity and playfulness through a different housing system, that is not about capital accumulation but rather about shared equity. This will create a different housing stock that is less dependent on the market itself and instead focus on its citizens. Consequently, this would create a different housing market that cannot be measured with the value of money. Instead it would influence a balance of demand and access of dwellings that would be affordable, accessible and encourage different lifestyles to be a part of the city.
How important was the timeline as medium through which to understand the condition and its development?
In a way the timeline works as a map on how to achieve a common goal. Each step of the development serves a purpose. Without the timeline it would have been difficult to understand the relation between them. In the beginning I had different timelines showing different possibilities depending on which scenario would work the best. In the end it helped me to identify which typologies I needed and what capacity, self-sufficiency and size was needed for of each Floathub.
What other tools and research material did you use to ground the project?
In the beginning of the project I started questioning everything. What was the role of the mobile dwelling if it wasn’t an accepted housing typology? This process of questioning helped me to uncover layers that later became the cornerstones of the project. In parallel I used mapping as a tool to understand the conditions of mobile living. I made a toolbox of mapped rules, regulations and ideas of how to achieve a mobile lifestyle. This worked as guide for me as it made me understand that the location becomes important to mobile dwellers, as it provides values to the mobile lifestyle. I also did a field work to identify mobile residents located in Stockholm. I later used these as case studies, that in the end helped me tie the project together.
What informed the use of a cnc as tool through which one can create his architecture?
The dependency on developers and a society that is unable to provide for those in need was and is, still so frustrating. The CNC-technology was a perfect medium to achieve a democratic housebuilding where users could take action in own hands and become developers themselves. Using the Wikihousing system WREN and its open source system allows users to use a flexible method in order to modify and costume future needs, which was ideal for the purpose of the project.
What is for you the architects most important tool?
Drawings. They are the most irreplaceable medium between the physical world and the understanding of our cities. Drawings in that sense are able to capture and reveal systems and underlaying functions we did not knew existed.