8 hotel-rafts on a lake in belgium will revive your childhood dreams

Jun 20, 2021

‘vlotkamp’ — which literally translates to ‘raft camping‘ — is a floating pop-up hotel realized by tobias knockaert & kika merlin on a lake in flanders, belgium. the project features 8 rafts with tents, only accessible by canoe, and follows a tree house initiative last year called ‘boomkamp’. the project puts the focus on adventure and reliving childhood dreams, and is exercise on making belgian local tourism attractions and a good escape during COVID-19.

after their tree house hotel ‘boomkamp’ initiative last year, tobias knockaert & kika merlin learned that people are really interested in having local alternative accommodations. COVID-19 also played a major role in increasing the demand for such experiences. the couple was triggered by the international committee of the red cross- who exploits a lake just behind their corner- to work out a concept on water.

the couple went all-in on the experience and forced future visitors to have themselves canoeing to the accommodation. the final result was to have different small modules on the water, creating a small village. the different modules had to be in the middle of the lake, giving the best experience. every raft is made out of 5 floating modules with a durable sibley tent put on top.

tobias knockaert & kika merlin designed a custom exoskeleton to tighten the canvas and provided a sturdy base to withstand the most extreme summer conditions, like a summer storm. the floating devices consist of recycled blue barrels and end-of-life tires to protect the raft and canoe against bumping. the couple had to overcome several technical issues such as anchoring, electricity, and emergency situations, before putting the rafts on the shore.

one solution to minimize resulting wind forces was to anchor only one corner of the raft. by doing this, the whole raft acts as a flag and rotates away from the wind direction. inside, there is a king-size double circular mattress, topped with some nice cushions and a bunch of cozy decorative elements. there are 2 outdoor seats and a small table, and for those who drank too much wine, there is an onboard emergency toilet, which works with wood snippets. extra features that you’ll find on the domain: a wheelchair-accessible raft on the shore, a bar, and a care hotel are some extra features that can be found on the domain.

project info:

name: vlotkamp

designers: tobias knockaert & kika merlin

location: polderwind, zuienkerke, belgium

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

edited by: yasmina karam | designboom