‘the float’ in leiden
Rotterdam-based architecture firm Studio RAP completes ‘The Float,’ a sustainable floating home built of timber and cork. The exposed timber interior captures light and creates a tranquil interior experience, while the solid cork exterior envelope subtly blends in with the atmosphere of the historic city of Leiden. The use of mainly two materials, timber and cork, radically simplifies the dwelling‘s construction while creating details that are at once simple and elegant.
the concept by studio rap
‘Our client asked us to design an innovative and sustainable floating home along the picturesque canals in the historical city of Leiden (NL),’ note the architects at Studio RAP, ‘Our design for the main mass is based on the idea that the house could be a series of atmospheres representing functions of living that at the same time avoid a single floating container appearance.‘
With this starting point, a series of smaller modules were designed and rotated towards the lush nature on the opposite side of the canal. Afterwards, extra panels were added in between the modules and then folded to create intricate 3D corrugated walls.
the folding structure
The atypical structure of the floating home takes inspiration from origami-principles and folded structures. This results in greater spans with less material than more conventional forms of structure. This load bearing structure was completely realized in Cross-Laminated-Timber (CLT), a solid, timber and bio-based material that was left exposed as the interior finish. In close collaboration with the structural engineer, folds were designed and parametrically optimized for the walls and roof that resulted in a reduction over two thousand kilograms (4,400 pounds) of timber.
a house wrapped in cork
The timber structure is clad solely in cork, with a low-density cork insulation layer and a high-density cork outer layer bonded by a cork mortar layer. This assembly lends walls which breathe, and a healthy and comfortable interior climate. The expanded cork used is a pure plant-based material with a unique ecological origin giving the building an exceptionally low carbon footprint. The architects note that cork is a great material to manufacture digitally, as all cork modules were CNC-cut to ensure neat seams and bespoke window details.
a digital workflow
From its early design stages to its construction, Studio RAP realized The Float entirely with digital techniques. Directly from its digital design all digital production data for the CLT and cork was made and structural calculations were done. The advantage of a solely digital workflow is that everything remains digital and therefore variable, making it possible to do changes without any problems until late in the realization process.
Thus, different design scenarios were easily be tested for planning, technical, and financial feasibility while sustainability was central in this digital workflow and guided most design decisions. In this way the project aspires to push the industry further with sustainable architecture and look beyond the use of conventional construction materials and methods.