The Friendship Boat is now an office for a remarkable advertising agency. A rebirth project of the infamous Badboot (a ferry boat that partially sank). The place brings visiting and working to a whole new level of collaboration, immersed in vegetation and fresh playful colours which stimulates creativity and thinking out-of-the-box. WATER Why would you dream to work at an exclusive location overlooking the water when you can be on the water itself? When clients come come to the boat you give them a whole new experience: coming on board for a meeting! The conversion of an infamous partially sunk boat was a challenge that Lucas Freire Architecture was happy to take on. The entire boat received a makeover in terms of interior, but also its use and function changed. Friendship had the courage to buy a boat in poor condition and have it transformed into their flagship. The boat was transformed into a place where there is a perfect balance between business and creativity. On board there are meeting rooms and lounge areas, but also creative workplaces, a bar and even a green zone. Even though the project is on land, the structural changes had to be approved by the port of Antwerp and a naval engineer. It was like a regular building permit but for a boat. This is also the reason why we see the Friendship Boat as building: a movable building! In a previous life, the lower level had a cramped space that was impossible to walk in. No light nor ventilation. It was transformed into a multifunctional space with a very green and open character. The lower deck is a dynamic and multifunctional place. It is suitable for lunch breaks, team meetings, one-on-one meetings, photo studio, storage room for models, etc. Due to large organic openings there is always a serene connection between the lower and the upper deck. The upper deck is the place to relax after work. It's a place where parties, meetings and events can be organised. A sunny cocktail to end your day or get a breath of fresh air while working with a view on the MAS Museum, overlooking the many boats. The captain’s cabin is the main element here where during the day a person can sit to concentrate and in the evening can be transformed into a DJ booth. SUSTAINABILITY On The Friendship Boat, the energy system consists of a number of used batteries from electric cars in combination with solar panels. Electric cars renew their batteries relatively quickly despite having more than 80 percent of their capacity available. That is why they can be used perfectly for storing solar energy and supplying electricity on dark days and in the evening. Green filters have been placed on both sides of the boat to collect and filter rainwater for use all over the boat: in the kitchen, the sanitary rooms and to water the plants as well. The large amount of plants inside the boat not only provides a fresh, pleasant space but also gives a boost to air quality. The use of an old partially sunken boat was a sustainable way to have an office without built neighbours. In addition, the office can be relocated without problems when this shows to be necessary. This was our way of avoiding over use of ground with concrete foundations that saturate our soil and block the natural course of underground waters. TECHNICALS The boat was found with a very thin hull that was not isolated at all. There were two large openings are also provided for heat blowers to warm up the boat during cold weather days. To drastically reduce the energy consumption of the future office there were made some adjustments. For example, insulated wooden panels have been placed against the hull and an extra layer of glass was added to the windows everywhere. This way the walls became thermally insulated and finished with recycled wood that requires no paint or maintenance. All windows with single glass were thus transformed into double glazing. The original steel construction of the boat was strengthened and insulated to achieve excellent energy performance. All floors were also insulated to keep the damp cold from the hull away. For the floor, a custom mix of polyurethane and epoxy was cast in a custom-made fermacell mesh, on top of grains that have been accurately scattered around the slope from 6 percent to 1 percent. The floor has a protective layer against noise and scratches, so that high heels or the rolling of office chairs the floor would not damage it. The fermacell mesh lies loosely on the granules, so that the floor moves along with the boat. This allows the furniture to be detached from the floor surface so that cracks don’t happen due to the movement of the boat. 70 custom-made cubes of polished aluminum ensure a certain dualism on the whole above deck. These cubes are half seats and half planters. These appear from the outside to be a long mirror that reflects the water and the other boats. Once one goes on the upper deck it gets a green character with a privative atmosphere. PROGRAM The outer deck has yet to undergo the second phase of the renovation. At the moment there is bicycle parking, a cloakroom for events and a bar. Once inside, the waiting room is on your right and the reception on the left. From here you have a total overview of the office, both on the deck and lower deck. This ensures that there is direct contact between the client and the employee. In addition to the reception there is access to the kitchen and the cloakroom, so that the client can wait in a pleasant way with possibly a coffee at the bar. From the kitchen there is direct access to the meeting room. When the previous meeting is over, the client can see it directly. When the clients go directly from the waiting room to the meeting room, they pass the working island and see the entire creative atmosphere. Then they make the crossing along two voids (that provide light and ventilation), which give a more spacious feel to the office to arrive at the meeting room. The work island is a very long table where everyone brainstorms and feels part of the creative team. Clever use of greenery creates a relaxed atmosphere and this element is also used to hide the wiring. A box was placed under the plants in which the cables run. The connection points are hidden between the plants. The offices of the CEOs are side by side. The creative and financial managers each have their own office, each with its own use and layout. Both managers look out over the entire office to gain inspiration from their team. The flow through the office is organised in different colours. Each of these colours represents a specific activity and atmosphere that this zone has. White for circulation, blue for work and yellow for social. All zones have a well-balanced balance between communication and privacy. The same applies to the flow between the two levels. The Friendship Boat is a social office boat! WHY IS THIS PROJECT SPECIAL We believe our project is one of a kind. A sinking boat was rescued from a dock in Antwerp and made the headlines of all the newspapers in the country. Became a hit and a daily topic of conversation. And then... gone. Nobody talked about it for a long time, but it remained in the imaginary of the people of Antwerp. Knowing this, Friendship made the daring move of recovering the boat and give it a new life. An old and damaged ferry boat had now another chance to shine! When Friendship called us for this job we were both astonished and thrilled! 'It's the Badboot!' we shouted. 'You bought the Badboot???' How, when and a thousand more questions followed. After that we put our heads to work towards the mission. To give this boat a comeback that no one believed anymore. And turn it into something completely new! A fresh new start. An office space that welcomes clients to come on board. A Friend-Ship for a Flagship office. You can tell our client is a Advertisement Company! We surpassed many challenges. Structural problems, environmental efforts, flaws and weaknesses of materials we wanted to use... Fears of the client, technical difficulties, financial stretch... the list is long! But we managed to find a solution for one problem at a time. The carpenters were our best friends and worst enemies. Satisfaction for seeing work done versus frustration of the fact that the boat was made of welded steel and there were no two corners of the same. Each element of the renovation is custom made and a unique piece. There's no two pieces that are the same. And when you count dozens of windows and their thermally insulated panels... and thinking that each one of them was numbered to be put back in its own place like a puzzle... Then we got ourselves a big puzzle to solve. The original floor of the boat had a 6% inclination from the center to the edges and with a cast floor as one of the main goals, it made us research until we found the right solution. A floor that didn't touch the structure of the boat. A floating floor. Separated from the side furniture or from the boat structure. Epoxy was too hard and wood brake with the movements of the boat and polyurethane would create bubbles due to the proximity with the water and its consequent humidity problems. So we came up with a magical potion. The right amount of epoxy for solidness and the right amount of polyurethane for elasticity. And Eureka! We had a durable, sustainable, innovative, daring and gorgeous (so say our clients) boat! At Lucas Freire Architecture we strive for finding a good balance between solution, cost and a tasteful environment that fulfils the client's wishes. It can be simple and still be refined. Made with care. We couldn't be happier.