Life on the water: Floating office in ex-WWII boat

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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Just when we thought we'd seen it all, this incredible project by Marraum shows up on our radar, and has quite literally, blown all other contemporary office design that we've seen to-date, out of the water. Titled The Barge, this floating office space is docked in Penryn, one of Cornwall's most ancient and historically rich towns. Not only is this an exciting concept, but the project also houses a reinvigorated glimpse at English wartime history. RobotMother, the lucky business who has set up shop inside, had a vision for their Jubilee Wharf business. So to speak, there was definitely something about this potential office space that floated their boat. The Barge has now become a local landmark, and is one of Marraum's most interesting and unique projects. We definitely recommend taking a tour below…

Additional credits: Mark & Loz Shipwrights, Eleanor Bell.

Ahoy there!

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge:  Office buildings by Märraum
Märraum

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge

Märraum

Used as an ancillary working platform on the docks, this WWII Ferro concrete barge was in a fairly sorry state. After laying in the shipyard, it was given a second chance when Andrew from RobotMother saw its potential. Each and every space inside the ship had a purpose for this crew—from the maintenance rooms to the bunking space. You'll absolutely be blown away by the finished interiors which incorporate contemporary office design with a touch of maritime flair. 

Welcome on board

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge:  Office buildings by Märraum
Märraum

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge

Märraum

Traditionally and practically speaking, every office space has a reception area where guests and clients are greeted. Clad in richly lacquered timber, the curved reception area provides a cheery and warm welcome. From here, we also start to understand the open plan layout of the office, and see that a striking combination of colours and material finishes have been used inside.

I concur

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge:  Office buildings by Märraum
Märraum

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge

Märraum

As mentioned, each room in this former wartime ship serves a purpose for this business. The area before you step out onto the hull has been cleverly turned into a conference space. Light-filled and bright, the area is conducive to creativity and inspiration thanks to its sea view and total illumination. Perhaps closing deals or brainstorming sessions will become much easier than they would have been inside a traditional conference space for an office?

Batten down the hatches

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge:  Office buildings by Märraum
Märraum

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge

Märraum

On the flip side of the conference room is this strip of space that has been used as both a waiting and storage area. Cleverly, the bookcase to the right was part of the dividing wall above, creating an interesting dialogue between the two areas. We absolutely love the old ship doors, complete with circular windows, as they give a quaint and spectacular hint at the original decorative aspects of the boat.

Kitchen capers

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge:  Office buildings by Märraum
Märraum

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge

Märraum

Yet another room which has been cleverly integrated into this office is a petite but practical kitchenette. By using industrial style lighting and retro wooden furniture, you'd have no idea that this space was situated inside a boat! Neat and quaint, essential storage units and appliances have been included and designed to sit flush against the walls to ensure the area is always kept tidy. 

A sea of teal

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge:  Office buildings by Märraum
Märraum

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge

Märraum

As we venture further into the open office space, we see that the same pattern of lacquered timber, stark white and teal has been employed throughout. We also see another example of maritime detail here, through the clever circular shaped cut-outs evidenced on both the ceiling and floor. A nod to the features on the doors, the glass cut-outs have a portal like appearance, and create a contemporary take at life on the sea. Using all the space to the best of its ability, the underside of the staircase has been used as a storage unit, tucked away out of sight from the reception and entrance hall to the rear.

Levels

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge:  Office buildings by Märraum
Märraum

Floating Office on a 1941 WWII Ferro Cement Barge

Märraum

Utilising the mezzanine level above, more storage space has been catered for, and provides an area that can be kept private. High level windows are commonplace in the ceiling, allowing natural light to circulate the space as much as possible and to create a work environment that is bright, airy and spacious. We can just imagine how different this space will look during different seasons—when the cloud is thick, a stormy aura will be felt inside, conversely, when it's bright and sunny outside, the ambience will teleport office workers to the Mediterranean coast. This is definitely an office space that is conducive to interaction, and will have all staff working with all hands on deck.

To see more exciting examples of groundbreaking architecture, check out the following ideabooks:

Out of the ordinary living

A pocket of space by the sea

Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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