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The Watervilla

Floating home in Zealand, Holland, may help solve the problem of Northern Europe's receding coastline.

In many areas of Northern Europe, the sea is gradually reclaiming the land through coastal erosion. Nowhere is this felt more keenly that the Netherlands, a country that is constantly battling with the North Sea. But they may have won a battle with the Watervilla.

More house than boat, Watervilla is a floating home to the Monfils family. Architect Herman Hertzberger has reclaimed domestic space from the sea without the need for extensive earth works. The whole structure rests gently on a triangular foundation of hollow, offshore steel pipes that allow it to drift at will, without the rocking motion of conventional houseboats.

The three levels feature generous lashings of interior wood, roof terraces, an expansive atrium and picture windows.

The house also capitalizes on the fluid properties of water. Not only does water act as a cooling agent to help regulate the internal temperature, it also supports the rotation of the house a full 90 degrees at the flick of a switch. This enables Don Monfils to move the home in whatever direction he pleases, either to trap sunlight in solar panels or to change the view and increase his privacy. Although permanently tethered for mortgage purposes, this house combines the best features of both land and sea and is all the more amazing for it.

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