Dwelling Not Simply by the Water, however Over and Even Beneath It


Indeed, huts on stilts are not only unique in French Polynesia. Some of the finest examples, known as fish houses, were built in Pine Island Sound, Florida, in the early 20th century, where they were primarily stopovers for commercial fishermen to sort and store their catch. A handful of remains, including one owned by the artist Robert Rauschenberg.

“The scale is very intimate – it’s tiny, almost a mix of a craftsman’s house and a boat – and yet you have a 360-degree view from the porch,” said Claire Weisz of WXY, an architecture and urban design studio in New York City overseeing the restoration of the property. Although Rauschenberg’s house, now run by his foundation, was built in 1942, Ms. Weisz said his condition was surprisingly good after weathering hurricanes and sea level rise. Built by carpenters, whose specialty was surface construction, it has spaced stakes that allow wind and water to pass safely.

Recently, developers even adopted the overwater idea for inland villas like the $ 25 million, 11,000-square-foot home in Santa Monica, California currently being built for Ira and Alice Rosenberg, a couple that retire the clothing business turned to development. To enter the house, a bridge is required, which is constructed as if it were floating over a water-filled courtyard.

At the Rosewood Mayakoba resort on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, a full shared apartment comprises villas with terraces that jut out over a lagoon in the heart of the property’s 620-acre nature reserve.

But nothing comes close to the four and five bedroom floating seahorse homes in Dubai, which cost € 20 million (about $ 24.4 million) each. They are part of the man-made archipelago known as The World, just off the coast near Palm Jumeirah. Each offers residents the option of not only living above the water, but below as well, as two of the bedrooms are below the surface of the water.

Josef Kleindienst, chairman of the Kleindienst Group, the developer of the project, said the idea for these properties came from his determination to explore the waters despite fears of swimming in the sea. He said 72 of the planned 133 villas have already been sold, despite the bad publicity that arose when a standalone platform the company set up for a New Year’s party in 2017 sank a few days after the event when the building was empty.

“The platform was designed for waves of up to 1.50 m, and unfortunately they came up to eight,” said Kleindienst. “The platform couldn’t take it, but if a swimming seahorse had been anchored in the same place, it wouldn’t have sunk because it’s more technically advanced.”