It was 27th February 2014 when the Nord-Pas de Calais region of France first discovered, upon reading the first pages of “L’Avenir de l’Artois” magazine, the incredible project set in motion by AQUASHELL.

Floating homes planned close to the Canal d’Aire

The project might seem unusual at first glance, but could bring with it an off-beat sensibility and respond to a certain demand.

Aquashell has just presented its floating homes project in Béthune. A project which provides for between ten and sixteen lodgings on the water in the basin between rue du quai de Bruay and rue Basly.

Admittedly it won’t be Venice, but Béthune may possibly have a quarter on the water by the end of 2014 / beginning of 2015. In a town with a history of inland shipping, the waterways could even represent the future when it comes to housing.
The headquarters of the navigable waterways of France, this home of Buridan is a site identified by Stéphane Ducamp, the man responsible for the project, for the establishment of at least a dozen homes on the water “We chose Aquashell, because it is a French company specialising in the field,” explains Stéphane Ducamp.

Making use of unused areas on the basis of the Dutch model

A basin has been identified for the project in close proximity to technical services and below the homes on rue Basly. “The city has a strong water-based tradition, but this has been left behind for several years, and there are now unused areas such as this basin which could be used for building floating homes,” explains Stéphane Ducamp. This would make it possible to create a kind of small neighbourhood. “There was a need for a quiet, green location, and what’s more this area is really close to the city centre,” he states.

Inevitably, when you think of homes on the water, you think, of course, of the Netherlands, who are way ahead in this field. “Floating homes are different to barges. As far as the house itself is concerned, it is made of wood. As for the structure, it is made of aluminium!” In a basin measuring approximately 350 metres in length and 25 metres wide, the project presented by Aquashell envisages three scenarios, with between ten and sixteen lodgings in total.

“The aim is not to go for density in terms of building, but to offer a quality home in a place that is well suited to it!” “The local authorities have shown interest in the project.” And the promoter offers this assurance: “We carried out research in advance and the result of our study is that we have 650 enquiries in the region for this kind of slightly offbeat home. “In a manner of speaking it would be something of a return to nature for those who took possession of these homes.

Take note all those who say that a home on the water means limited comfort! “Admittedly we are not in the realm of the traditional home with a house, garage and front lawn here, but there is sure to be plenty of comfort! “In its specification, Aquashell highlights in particular an access to the home via the front terrace, closed by a sliding shutter. “It is a case of preserving peoples’ privacy and respecting the living space in each home. “These floating houses could be moored to a 200 metre-long pontoon, with an access ramp. A good way of adding an even more attractive aspect to this future quarter on the water!

Stéphane Ducamp fervently believes in his project: “We have chosen our partners for the construction. And all with solely private capital.” And he emphasises: “There are other ways of creating neighbourhoods on the water, but the idea is that each quarter will be different. “The lodgings are expected to be moored by the end of 2014, beginning of 2015.

Marc VASSEUR

L’Avenir de l’Artois magazine