Barges are Back in London

There is a long history of people living on canal barges in London, but they were usually narrow, low and often pretty uncomfortable in winter. Not any more; British Waterways ran a design competition to renovate some big old spits barges into a mixed use community in the Isle of Dogs. The winners were Architects PCKO and Baca; Narrow and dark they are not.

The Architects Journal reports:

Discussing the winning submissions the judges, chaired by British Waterways’ London director, Mark Bensted said:

‘The approach demonstrated design flair and variety with considerable thought given to the three main areas of animation; the dockside, the urban space around the barges and the on-deck space.’


The Barges, a combination of Belgian Spits and French Peniches, started life as commercial boats, carrying their cargo along the waterways of mainland Europe. They were given an opportunity to become a part of this new scheme in London Docklands when British Waterways’ London Director, Mark Bensted and Docklands Manager, Dennis Fink spotted the potential of using these types of barges in Docklands and travelled to the Netherlands to purchase a series of barges to be remodelled. The barges were brought across the North Sea and to a new home in South Quay, London Docklands.

More information at Waterscape


Ben Sutherland

The typical London barge has to fit through some pretty small tunnels, so they are limited in dimensions and comfort;


Happy Dave

But they are often things of beauty. A few others from TreeHugger:


Schwimmhausboot: A Green Modern Floating Home

Floating Homes Made From Coffee Cups with Green Walls

Floating Eco-Homes In The Netherlands

Villa Näckros: Swedish Floating Prefabs

Tags: Boats | Design Competitions | Designers | London