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Guest Harbor / Attefallshus by visiondivision


Entitled Guest Harbor the project is visiondivision‘s answer to the Attefallshus buildings popping up in Sweden right now.  Named after the Swedish minister of housing Stefan Attefall, the Attefallshus is a 25m2 (270 square feet) additional house on their premise without needing a building permit.

The law led to a huge increase in small buildings on private properties, to answer to this perhaps negative trend the leading Swedish architects are preparing their own designs. This is actually visiondivision’s project for  a forthcoming book called 25 m2 where the Swedish architects are invited to present their ideas of how their Attefallshus would look like.

In the true visiondivision spirit, their solution is totally unexpected – it is a 25 square meter boat! See more below:

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Background to the proposal

Sweden has a very rich boating culture with over 800 000 registered vessels in the country, which means a density of boats that is among the highest per capita in the world. Today, many of the boats are stored on ugly stilts and are blemishing residential areas in the whole country.

If you happen to be one of those hundreds of thousands of boat owners in Sweden, we would recommend you not to buy an Attefallshus. Instead, we want you to enjoy your boat and take responsibility for our common cultural treasure that our boats are. We have therefore developed a strategy for how the Swedish boats should be stored and also be given a function when not at sea. We have developed three different types of docks to keep the boat in one’s garden that is both smooth, aesthetically pleasing and appropriate to the needs and desires that you have. The result is a completely new typology that has all the prerequisites to become a popular addition to the residential areas all around the country.

We will now present some advantages with a boat compared to a 25 m² Attefallshus.


With the turmoil of the financial crisis back in 2008, the resale value of boats has dropped by almost a third in Sweden, with even larger price declines among the bigger boats.

You will also get a lot more genuine crafts and hours put in and fine expensive materials for your money plus you get a movement possibility if you buy a boat instead of a smaller house.

Good constructions
We architects rarely get the opportunity to bend boards or plastic in our houses or create double curved facades and once we come up with such designs it usually means that the house will turn out to be way too expensive for the client.
A mass-produced boat on the other hand, has always these qualities, and even more so.
The structures are staggeringly thin and mathematically calculated to withstand both waves and severe weather. A part from this, there are also a lot of special details and custom built wall fixtures that few modern houses can compete with. The material of the boat is also of much higher quality than the materials for buildings. The grains in the boards for a wooden boat for example are much denser than a board for a house facade. The normal boat builder usually also have higher skills when it comes to craftsmanship than a Swedish carpenter has today. A normal boat is always designed by a skilled boat-builder and the design is usually always tested in harsh conditions, at sea by professionals. Plastic boats have a very long life and are easy to maintain. Wooden boats have an even longer life if you handle them right and they are also one of the finest forms of crafts we have in Sweden.

Delivery time

To build an Attefallshus, like with most houses, you have to deal with a lot of carpenters, builders and sometimes architects that doesn’t always comply with the clients wishes. This can be frustrating to handle. It is much easier to buy an already built boat instead, where you do not have to make guesses based on complicated drawings and wishful renders, the boat is already there to make an inspection of it before you buy it, and what you see is also what you get.

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The problem with a boat is usually to find a port, especially in the larger city areas. But if you have room for an Attefallshus then you probably also have room for a boat on your premise. Having a boat standing on stilts in the garden is ugly and sometimes even unsafe. In our tribute to the boat, we suggest instead that the boat will be in their right element even in your suburb garden. A boat wants to be in the water and the easiest way to solve this is to build a swimming pool in your yard or alternatively an artificial pond beside your cottage or why not a fountain if you own a lavish manor.

The pool

The pool, which we assume will be the most common category, works on most villa plots and has the advantage that when the boat is at sea during the summer season you will at the same time have a swimming pool on your land. A pool can be made in different designs and in different price ranges. Before you make the pool it’s essential to think through what kind of accessories you want for your boats purpose. Maybe a traverse over the pool facilitates the placement of the boat for example, especially if you move your boat often.

If these pools are becoming increasingly more common, one can imagine that whole residential areas near water could be connected with channels alongside residential streets and be linked directly to each pool.

How to build the pool

A cheap alternative is to order a fiberglass pool from Poland or Germany. To save even more money, you can make the foundation and install the pool by yourself. It’s not that hard really.

To do this, you first dig a pit that is a decimeter larger than the size of the pool in all directions, then you should fill it with a 5 cm sand layer and then with a 5 cm thick layer of a mixture of cement and sand. This mixture prevents deformation of a fiberglass pool that is sometimes caused due to the temperature differences during the year. Once the mixture is in place it is time to lower the pool in to the pit. After that you should fill the pool with a decimeter of water. Then filling the gap on the pool sides with more of the sand and cement mixture and also add a bit of water. Then it’s time to gradually fill up the pool little by little.

The pond

The artificial pond, which is suitable for a little larger plots, is a lake in miniature allowing larger boats to fit here. The pond can create such a peaceful place that you probably won’t move the boat at all. An artificial pond also blends very well into a garden environment, where the aquatic plants and the implanted carps will be a nice addition to the plot. With a small sailing boat or a wooden boat you’ll get a perfect guest house and a nice piece of art in the pond which can be illuminated at night. From the boat your guests can fish or just watch the reflections on the pond with water lilies and reeds that are arranged in nice compositions. If you are very prone to the marine way, you can choose to create a large pond on an empty parcel of land and then have a second-hand bought ship as a main building and smaller boats as guest cottages. Your own cute version of Water World.

To build the pond

To make an artificial pond, you must first dig a big enough hole in your yard that are tailored to the boat that you have or will acquire. The larger the pond you have, the more even will the temperature be within, which is important if you want to be able to accommodate a healthy biological system where plants and animals will thrive.

When you plan your pond it’s a good idea if you divide the pit in different height levels to get different zones in your pond. It is beneficial to have large areas which are horizontal if you want the aquatic plants will root in a good way. When you dig, starting from the middle and then out, its important to remove rocks, roots and other irregularities.

When you are satisfied with the dimensions and the grading, you should pour sand that covers the entire pond, preferably more than 5 cm. Then put out a pond foil and place large rocks all around the bottom to get the foil well anchored, and for aesthetically reasons you should also cover the foil on the edges with stones for a more natural pond appearance.

Then fill it gently with water, starting in the middle and see if you need to adjust or add stones on the foil. Then fill in with smaller stones or sand to cover the foil and to create places where your aquatic plants can root. Also, make sure that the pond edges have the same horizontal plane.

The different zones can be divided into three different parts; a transition zone, a shallow zone and a deep zone. The transition zone is something in-between solid ground and the pond consisting of water-saturated soil and is 0 to 40 cm deep. The plants are planted directly in the soil. Between this zone and the rest of the pond it’s good to have a barrier of some kind so the soil won’t not be rinsed out of the water. The shallow zone is between 10 to 40 cm and is a level where most aquatic plants thrive. So does also frogs and birds.

The deep zone is determined by the depth of your boat but is anywhere from half a meter to your decided maximum depth. If you are going to have fish that will overwinter in the pond, you must have at least one meter depth in places, a pump is also crucial to oxygenate the water.

The Fountain

For the better-off, this could be a guest house that beats everything that the market yet has to offer. The illusion to allow a fountain to lift your boat becomes the absolute proof that you are doing well and it also gives the impression that the boat defies gravity. The boat can not only be seen in your entire neighborhood, it will also splash water on your neighbors and if it is well polished, it will also dazzle the jealous by passing crowd and throw reflections from the sun over the entire block. You might think we’re kidding, but it’s just stuff like this visiondivison can help our clients with, and we promise you a lot of attention to both your boat and your aspirations in life.

The boat can be reached either from the main house terrace or if you want, you can build in an elevator in the fountain. The latter solution requires that the boat is stationary.

A purpose-built fountain in different levels means that you’ll get a very attractive gathering place in the summer for parties and social gatherings, where, for example, one can swim and ride jet skis in the lower part and then sip cocktails in the upper part where the boat is anchored. This kind of extravaganza can cost a lot, but at the same time, it is precisely boats in this price range that has fallen most in the second hand market, and if you would build a guest house with the same finish, you will probably have to pay a lot more. Another upside with buying a boat is that you can get it delivered the same day you order it.

A cheaper alternative is to build the fountain and do all the preparations for the boat and then just hire the boat during special occasions such as weddings, birthdays or if your stock portfolio has been particularly favorable.

How to build the fountain

A class-act fountain is something that you don’t build yourself, for best finish and outstanding features you should always call visiondivision.

For more designs by Ulf Mejergren & Anders Berensson at visiondivision log on to

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