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Amsterdam's unique floating homes are going upmarket

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The Times Of India
09th November, 2019 07:58 IST

When Karen Bosma first moved her boat to the Borneokade, northeast of Amste rdam’s city center, in 1999, the neighbourhood was barely more than a cluster of commercial docks and underused warehouses.

Bosma and her husband have raised two sons on the a 1912 82-foot freighter, which — stripped of its engine, fuel tanks and cargo hold — is one of Amsterdam’s iconic houseboats.

Three boats down lies the B18, a 131-foot, two-and-a-halfstory floating mansion that shows just how perfectly the soul of a luxury yacht combines with open-space living.

“It has to be a ship on the outside and a house on the inside,” said Gijs Haverkate, 53, who created the vessel and lives on it with his family.

Houseboats here have gone upmarket. The new owners are wealthy and discerning, interested in new designs, upgraded comfort and sustainability.

Amsterdam’s houseboats — or rather the spaces they float — have become expensive, with prices increasing 30 to 40% in the last five years alone.

Once populated by converted working boats, the canal now holds an increasing number of floating houses designed to look like oceangoing vessels but with hardly any of the working features of a real boat.

Bob van Wely’s 115-foot houseboat is fully redesigned from an old working fishing trawler . To make maximum use of the pier space, he extended the original hull 30 feet. He converted the wheelhouse to an office and the cargo hold to a spacious living room. The covered bow (where fishermen once fixed their nets) is now a guest room. The heat is produced by a heat pump and solar panels. A stove in the kitchen keeps the rooms cozy in the winter and heats water, which in turn heats the floor.

“You can still live in the city, but you don’t feel so cramped,” he said.

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