The MetroSHIP concept started back in the early 1990′s.
While studying at the University of Westminster, myself and two of my best friends, Craig and Callum, lived in Wapping in East London, UK … opposite two pirate ships that looked like they were straight out of a Disney movie. In fact the location was good enough for a speed boat chase for James Bond in The World Is Not Enough.
I always felt that the pirate ships commanded the best views and often wondered what it would be like to live on a boat. Most people in London live in small spaces, so living on a boat wouldn’t be too much of a change in living space and the idea of having a completely mobile living space is appealing. Not to mention the idea of having multiple boats across the world to visit has always been a continuing dream.
So the planning began in London and thoughts started to develop over the years.
I wanted it to be like an updated Frank Lloyd Wright home but with an open New York Loft condo style mixed with a mid century Eichler home post and beam style. Using structurally sound lightweight aluminum panels was important. Using a single piece roof was important. Using the very best doors and windows available was important. Design, as they say, is in the details.
I wanted the interior to be open plan and with higher ceilings than traditional boats-you can’t be comfortable if you’re cramped. I wanted someone to walk into the MetroSHIP and not only be impressed at the level of comfort, but I wanted people to immediately feel at home.
I wanted to avoid the typical ‘RV of the Sea’ built-in cabinets and cheap finishes.
I wanted owners of the MetroSHIP to be able to bring-their-own furniture to add their own style and preferences. We are not all the same, we don’t all share the same sense of style.
I spent many hours, weeks, months obsessing over the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen and bathroom placement was carefully planned to center the weight in the middle of the boat for the utmost stability. The kitchen changed design frequently until I took a model of kitchen cabinets and started testing all the possible placements of cabinets. The result was to place two rows of cabinets back to back to create a huge kitchen island that could double as a huge work space, breakfast bar, prep area etc. while never looking like a kitchen. It needed to look like a huge piece of furniture in the main living area. The bathroom had to be full sized and comfortable – no ifs ands or buts (no pun intended). The bathroom vanity had to be full-sized, the shower had to feel right and the faucet in the bathroom had to be touchless to avoid water wastage. I also had to make sure we used a top-of-the-line steam washer / dryer. Everything had to be the best of the best to make the vision successful.
I wanted to develop a houseboat that let a wash of light in (always a problem with houseboats-hence why you see so many windows on the newer houseboats). It wasn’t just about the look of the boat, it was more about the production, the quality, the simplicity, the interior feel and above all the quality of life on the floating boat. The result is something Philippe Starck would be proud of-where the design has grown and developed on its own, as a result of solving a problem with houseboat products.
Houseboats to me have looked the same for far too long …
Just like any great idea the journey isn’t always easy. Having moved to America I began to research houseboat companies that could help make my dream a reality. I drove to Kentucky, home of the established houseboat companies, I had conference call after conference call with companies in Ontario, Ohio and Florida. Some more promising than others … but ultimately the idea never came to fruition when I relied on others to build it. People that know me, know that if I have an idea I have to make it a reality. The modern MetroSHIP houseboat has had some major and frustrating delays, but everything happens for a reason. A chance encounter with a Georgia native has resulted in bringing the MetroSHIP to life and to full production. Just like any product you want to be perfect, changes are inevitable. During the production process many things were tweaked and some crazy ideas were tried and tested … some survived, others did not, others may return another day.
As I look back on the process of producing the MetroSHIP, the time and effort involved with this unique project I would like to thank those people that have helped make another one of my ideas a reality … you all know who you are and I appreciate you all putting up with question after question and challenging the answers to those many questions. It’s also important to recognize those that helped make the MetroSHIP the great product it is and I will be eternally grateful.
Thank you kindly to our vendors:
I encourage you all to view the floating modern houseboat, the MetroSHIP by Ballinger & Co., up close and in person. It’s truly unique-a testament to European design and American ingenuity.
Ballinger & Co. is owned by GDM Limited.
Ballinger & Co. is a one-stop shop for modern houseboat production.
Ballinger & Co. can design a custom boat for you.
Ballinger & Co. can deliver your boat to you.