Studio RAP designs a sustainable floating home made of wood and cork

‘the swimmer’ in suffering

Rotterdam-based architecture firm Studio RAP completes The Float, a sustainable project floating house built of wood and cork. The exposed wood interior captures light and creates a serene interior experience, while the solid cork exterior subtly blends with the historic city atmosphere Suffer. The use of mainly two materials, wood and cork, simplifies this radically apartment‘s construction while creating simple and elegant details.

Pictures © Riccardo de Vecchi |

the concept of studio rap

Our client asked us to design an innovative and sustainable floating home along the scenic canals in the historic city of Leiden (NL).,’ note that architects in the 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 while avoiding the appearance of a single floating container.

With this starting point, a series of smaller modules were designed and rotated towards the lush nature on the opposite side of the canal. Additional panels were then added between the modules and then folded to create intricate 3D corrugated walls.

Studio rap float

the folding structure

The atypical structure of the floating house is inspired by origami principles and folded structures. This results in larger spans with less material than more conventional forms of construction. This load-bearing structure was realized entirely in Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT), a solid wood and bio-based material that was exposed as an interior finish. Working closely with the structural engineer, folds for the walls and roof were designed and parametrically optimized, resulting in a reduction of over two thousand kilograms (4,400 pounds) of timber.

Studio rap float

a house wrapped in cork

The wooden structure is clad entirely in cork, with an insulating layer of low-density cork and an outer layer of high-density cork, bonded by a layer of cork mortar. This structure gives breathing walls and a healthy and comfortable indoor climate. The expanded cork used is a purely plant-based material with a unique ecological origin, giving the building an exceptionally low carbon footprint. The architects find that cork is a great material for digital fabrication, as all cork modules have been CNC cut to ensure clean seams and bespoke window details.

Studio rap float

a digital workflow

From the early design stages to construction, Studio RAP realized The Float entirely using digital techniques. All digital production data for cross laminated timber and cork was created directly from the digital design and static calculations were carried out. The advantage of a purely digital workflow is that everything remains digital and therefore variable, and changes can easily be made late in the implementation process.

In this way, different design scenarios could be easily tested for planning, technical and financial feasibility, while sustainability was the focus of this digital workflow and guided most design decisions. In this way, the project aims to further advance the industry with sustainable architecture and look beyond the use of traditional building materials and methods.

Studio rap float

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