Bosco, in her commercial life had been a cargo barge traversing the European waterways carrying grain and coal. Her vast, singular riveted steel hold space of 5 by 38 metres had at time of purchase a curved demountable corrugated steel roof.
The floor had been ballasted with hundreds of high-density concrete blocks to offset the lack of cargo. Fourteen newly installed brass portholes established the rhythm for the setting out of the internal layout to create rooms.
The brief was to convert this working barge into a comfortable family home. We wanted to be able to provide everything you would expect in a house, including specific grown up spaces and teenage areas as well as ‘meet in the middle’ family areas. Also key to to the brief was to create some sort of a garden space.
We carved up the original hold space below deck into three parts – the master bedroom suite in the stern, children’s quarters to the bow and social spaces in the middle. The design was also required to tackle the not insignificant technical challenges involved in converting boats into comfortable dwellings, including the requirement to co-locate most of the bathroom/washing services in one place so the boat facilities can connect up with shore facilities for power and waste away.
So to meet these design parameters, our primary visual intervention to the barge aesthetic was the addition of the glass box, or as it started out, a Fox’s glacier mint, sitting on the deck. We honed the design, eventually morphing the ‘glacier mint’ into the proportions of industrial shipping containers like Maersk, then transforming this rectilinear form into glass, which allowed the light and air in and the river views out. Having filled this ‘winter garden’ with temperate plants, lemon trees and a vine, we can now appreciate the benefits of river living all year round in the lemon and jasmine scented indoor oasis. Neatly tucked below this winter garden are the major servicing elements, where the bath, shower and utility rooms are co-located. Finally, to the stern, separated from the glass box by teak decks is the open plan kitchen and dining area, presided over by the wheelhouse. ‘It’s all incredibly domesticated comfortable and familiar’ said Matt Gibberd of The Modern House, when interviewing us for The World of Interiors October 2018 issue. ‘Like wearing your favourite fur lined slippers - albeit with skateboard wheels attached to the soles’ when referring to the barely perceptible ebb and flow of the Thames beneath.