Inspired by fishing boats, this houseboat’s compact lifestyle is entirely sustained through solar energy!

Floating idly by the waters of Lake Tisza, a small, white houseboat called Sneci carries a city-dwelling couple who call the tiny vessel home. Tamás Bene, a Hungary-based architect, designed Sneci with sustainability and mobility bringing him his main inspiration. The couple, originally from Budapest, sought Bene out to build a summer home that wasn’t grounded or fixed but embedded in the beauty of The Great Hungarian Plain’s Lake Tisza.

Sneci’s pace might mimic its namesake, ‘the snail,’ with a smaller 9.9 internal combustion engine, but Bene and his clients wanted a houseboat that could bring them through Lake Tisza’s curving waterways slowly. In fact, Sneci was built for leisure. After all, the fisher’s lifestyle, which inspired the boat’s overall design, has a way of slowing things down. Bene looked to other boats dotted along Lake Tisza’s shoreline, like fishing boats, for their compact, yet functional operation – hoping to maintain an overall small size and adaptivity standard so that the houseboat’s residents could move modestly on the water, but purposefully indoors. Managing to incorporate a small kitchen, dining area, and double bed in Sneci’s small space, Bene paneled the boat’s interior walls with thermo-wood and Redwood timber. Since designers structure fishing boats primarily according to each fisher’s needs, the final vessel prioritizes practicality above aesthetics. Hoping to find a way to bridge the two, Bene maintained the houseboat’s inherent minimalism in maintaining a compact living space, while integrating subtle, nautical design accents for both the boat’s interior and exterior. Most of Sneci’s exterior cladding and structure are built from aluminum and then covered with a stately, snow-white coating. Besides aluminum, Bene utilized heat-treated thermo-wood for Sneci’s roof, decking, and back wall. Smaller portholes provide the interior living space with views of the lake and a larger, floor-to-ceiling door offers a fuller view and opens up to the houseboat’s bow deck and the artificial lake’s outdoor wonders.

However, building Sneci to blend in with Lake Tisza’s shoreline shrubbery and trees required some energy-efficient sources of power for a water system and electricity. Two solar panels line Sneci’s roof and generate enough electricity to power up electrical equipment in the houseboat’s tiny kitchen, which includes a small refrigerator, light fixtures, and one gas-powered stove plate. The kitchen’s sink requires no electricity since drinking water can be obtained through a foot pump that delivers water from a 20-liter bottle. Tamás Bene said, “We aimed to design a boat capable of assimilating into these surroundings, one that may become part of this scenery.” With a fully-contained water system, an energy-efficient source of electricity, and a modular, compact living space – I think it’s safe to say, he completed what he set out to design.

Designer: Tamás Bene

This houseboat was designed to blend in the natural landscape & encourage sustainable travel

A young couple who were living in a modest apartment in Budapest reached out to architect Tamás Bene to design a small houseboat on Lake Tisza which would be their summer getaway home. They only had one ask – the structure would allow them to be immersed in nature so they could express their love for the region. The houseboat was a perfect concept that fulfilled their wishes without being fixed or grounded just like the river Tisza which is the source of lake’s thriving ecosystem.

The compact houseboat gives the residents an opportunity to spend time closely in the natural environment and even move their location if they feel like. The floating cabin has been designed to blend into the existing landscape so the residents get a chance to experience the surroundings on an intimate level. Bene drew inspiration from traditional cabin fishing boats for the form while optimizing the small space to include a small kitchen, dining table and sleeping area. For a nautical aesthetic, circular windows were added and the interior features warm timber finishes. The essence of the structure will remind you of the organically shape the waterside huts, dinghies and boats.

“The movement of this compact living space intends to enable its occupants to approach the atmosphere of their natural environment as closely as possible – insofar as nature has an ‘atmosphere’. The boat gives us an opportunity to spend time, eat, drink, sleep and awaken nearly anywhere, while blurring the boundaries between our personal selves and nature itself. This region has a special character not only in terms of its wildlife, but also because of the human-built environment that connects the river and the lake,” adds Bene. This houseboat is minimal, cozy and a seamless part of the lake without disturbing the ecosystem – perhaps in future Bene can team up with local communities and design more cabins that promote sustainable traveling!

Designer: Tamás Bene