A Houseboat For Urban LivingBy Gary Kramer
Published: June/July 2012
The best places to live in some European cities are on waterways. MetroShips now offer Americans that lifestyle.
From a factory in Georgia comes an unusual, upscale houseboat that is a combination of New York loft-style condo and boutique hotel room. Their designer calls them "mobile architecture."
The exterior walls are made by mixing recycled glass with a polymer into panels that are sandwiched between an aluminum grid. They let light wash the interior, provide privacy and seem to glow at night.
The interior is open except for a combination kitchen/bathroom pod. It is centralized to stabilize the boat and provide maximum efficiency and access for the wiring and plumbing.
Two rows of combined cabinets create a large kitchen island that serves as a work space, breakfast bar and storage for a large flat-screen TV on a lift. The appliances are ultra high-end and owners provide the furniture. A zoned, ductless heat pump system delivers heat and air conditioning.
The bath has a pocket door, full shower, water-conserving, touchless faucets, a steam washer/dryer and an Italian curved glass vanity. The stateroom is aft of the head.
Two recent boats from the factory in Georgia illustrate the design's flexibility. One went to Saudi Arabia in a shipping container with a full set of re-assembly instructions. The other, headed to California, has a 12' x 24' second story that is removable for shipping. Fore and aft spiral staircases lead to a bedroom, salon, full bath and a hard top complete with wet bar and retractable sun awning. They even designed wine storage below decks in the hull.
The base boat is 48 feet long with a 12-foot beam and starts around $150,000. The 12-foot beam lowers both slip and transportation costs. The boats are built on a choice of hulls and are powered by single or twin outboards run from a helm station on the front deck. The interiors, however, utilize non-marine products. The insulated wall panels, for instance, are based on ones long used on store fronts and skylights. For more information, go to www.metro-ship.com.
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