What do you get when you combine a luxury yacht, an offgrid house, and a waterfront villa? Well, add in just a dash of Tesla and one part deep sea oil rig, and you’ve got the ArkUp Livable Yacht.
The ArkUp is a solar powered, self-sufficient, electrically propelled floating mansion that can transform any harbor in the world into prime waterfront real estate. A masterpiece of sustainable engineering, This 4 bedroom floating home rests on a set of retractable hydraulic legs that anchor it to the seabed and completely stabilize the vessel, even lifting it out of the water. If you get bored of the view, you have the freedom to lift off and use silent electric motors to cruise somewhere else for a change of scenery.
A zero emission offgrid oasis, the innovative ArkUp lets you live lavishly with total autonomy. Thanks to a massive solar panel array and battery storage system, the arkup doesn’t require any fuel, and with rainwater harvesting, you can live onboard indefinitely.
I recently got the opportunity to go onboard the ArkUp 75 and get a tour of it’s innovative features from co-founder and CEO Nicolas Derouin. We crawl in a bunch of compartments, look at all types of gauges, and discuss the green technology behind the sleek glass facade of this forward looking vessel.
At a length of 75 feet, with 4,350 square feet of living space, achieving energy independence onboard the ArkUp is no easy task. The battery system provides power for all onboard systems, home appliances, and electric propulsion. Let’s check in with Nicolas and learn more about it.
So the battery is one key element of the boat. The boat’s completely solar-powered so it’s really like the heart of the vessel and all the systems that are integrated. The type of battery we use our lithium ion batteries. The choice of the vendor the supplier for this batteries for us was really important, was key because we really wanted the batteries to have long lifespan and be very safe and reliable in their design and technology so we partnered with a company from Canada called Corvus energy. They usually provide these batteries for commercial vessels, or hybrid ferries or fishing boats, so it’s really for industrial commercial applications that these batteries have been designed. We have 182 kilowatt hour, that’s the storage capacity. There’s two racks of battery cells that are stored in the electrical room below deck. Each rack has about 16 cells and each cell can be removed or replaced separately. So there’s a there’s a an exhaust system that’s installed on these batteries to avoid thermal runaway meaning that if there’s one issue with one of these cells usually they will burn or explode and the heat produced by that will expand to the to the cells around and that will destroy the entire battery and eventually the boat. So on these ones that there’s an exhaust system and safety system that makes any issue on one cell, not to expand to the to the other cells and so there’s no huge damage on the battery and the boat is safeguarded so that’s really a safety feature that was key for us.
How long can batteries power house?
So with a full charge of battery let’s say on a regular sunny day like today, I mean we have a kind of daily cycle where we recharge the battery with the Sun every day but if there’s completely no Sun so just rain and clouds for several consecutive days, the battery will provide energy to the to the floating house two to three days depending on how many people live on onboard at that time and how they manage the energy consumption. At least two days guaranteed.
Range and Top Speed
If you saw the ArkUp docked in the marina you might find it hard to believe that this is an actual seaworthy, drivable vessel. But the ArkUp comes equipped with two 100 kilowatt azimuth electric thrusters, that provide silent and vibration free electric propulsion.
The houseboats large rectangular roof acts as an ideal platform to harvest solar energy, but the vessels shape creates a tradeoff for propulsion efficiency.
In terms of speed so this boat is quite slow, very maneuverable but quite slow, and it’s not really related to the propulsion itself more to its design. So it’s a it’s a large hull with a flat bottom and it’s a heavy structure with a lot of wind edge, it’s kind of a box on top of it. So that kind of determines the maximum speed. So we have cruising speeds of 2 to 3 knots and maximum speed of 5 to 6 knots. The range depends on on the weather conditions like I said, on a sunny day between noon and 2 p.m. you can actually sail without draining any of your power stored in the battery so what you produce with the solar array will be enough to to make the the propellers work and propel the vessel but generally speaking we have a range of 10 to 15 nautical miles with the setup that we have like the solar panel capacity, the battery storage capacity and the propellers that we have. That can vary a lot depending on the use of the vessel so if we had full speed probably after one hour we will run out of power and therefore you you have five to eight nautical mile range let’s say, and if we sail with the Sun we can have a 20 nautical mile range.
Solar Panel System
Set atop the ArkUp’s 2,400 square foot roof, The Solar panel system consists of 110 325 Watt panels that generate 36 Kw of power. Considering the size of your average home solar installation is about 7kw, this is quite a large system. Mounted on a permeable rainwater collection membrane, these panels are firmly anchored to the roof, and wired directly into the ships inverter controller. While docked at the marina, the ship can also run off shore power, and charge its batteries.
In the small low lying nation of the Netherlands, water has played a central role in the lives of its inhabitants since the earliest settlers learned how to pump out their land to make way for tulip fields.
With much of the nation below sea level and gradually sinking,The Dutch know a thing or two about water based building.
Born of these dutch roots in shipbuilding and architecture, the ArkUp was designed by WaterStudio NL under the leadership of sustainable design veteran Koen Olthuis (Coon Olt Hoice) . Inspired by dutch floating communities, the experimental concept envisions the future of aquatic living and address the issues of urban growth, rising seas, and dependence on fossil fuels.
Being onboard the ArkUp, you might forget you’re on a boat, as it feels like a spacious, luxuriously outfitted modern home. Designed to be one with the natural surroundings, Balconies, terraces, and floor-to-ceiling windows always remind you you’re at sea, and a retractable terrace creates plenty of outdoor space.
The vessel is 75 feet long and 32 feet wide and weighs in at 268 tons. With 2700 square feet of total indoor space and 1650 square feet of outdoor space, the ArkUp’s voluminous cuboid shape creates the same livable space as a 110 foot yacht.
Built on a steel hull and superstructure, and outfitted with impact resistant windows, the ArkUp is built to withstand Category 4 hurricanes. It’s durability being an important component to it’s intended purpose as a “future-proof” dwelling.
Centered on an open floor plan living room, the spacious two level floating villa prioritizes space and comfort.
The bottom level contains a full living room, a fully equipped open concept kitchen, crew cabin, two bathrooms and a small office area. When the vessel is docked the sliding outdoor deck creates one of the coolest backyards in Miami.
Upstairs 3 bedrooms with full bathrooms, and two spacious balconies create a comfortable living space aboard the vessel for up to 8 people.
One of the day’s I was filming, the house was being rented by a large family, and as part of the ArkUp experience, the crew took them out of the marina for a cruise through Biscayne Bay to spend the night anchored in a new location.
Notice how the ArkUp remains completely still in comparison to all the rocking boats floating around? That’s because it’s not floating at all.
A key feature of the Arkup is its sophisticated system for elevating the vessel completely above water level and making it feel as stable as a house on land.
The four 40-foot-long hydraulic pilings, or “spuds” in marine terminology, level the floating home, creating a sturdy foundation in depths up to 20 feet. In addition to the added security in rough weather, this system eliminates the effect of the rolling of the sea, and, for those affected by it, seasickness.
The technology is actually borrowed from the offshore drilling industry.
Helm Station Controls
The controls for the spuds, as well as all controls related to navigation are located on the boats helm stations, lets take a look:
So on this part of the helm station on the left side we have the controls of the anchoring and self lifting system. So this is the shape of the barge, of the hull and the four spuds, the four anchors, and each joystick controls one of these spuds. The anchors can be controlled simultaneously, the four at one time to lift or lower the vessel or they can also be controlled independently and that will enable us to fine-tune the the leveling of the boat and make sure it’s completely horizontal.
Alright so this is the other side of the helm station where we have all the controls related to navigation so really like a boat so those are the controls for the Electric thrusters the two pods that we have at the stern. They rotate 180 degrees so this is the control to steer the boat we also have a bow thruster to improve the maneuverability and then we also have anchoring lights, navigation lights, horn, VHF radio to communicate with other other boats, the bridges, coast guards and so on and those controls are to activate the retractable deck so to extend the decks or retract the decks that we have on both sides of the vessel. This screen here provides information about the the navigation of the vessel so the speed of the engines, the wind, the charge of the battery we know exactly real-time how much solar energy we are producing with the solar roof and how much energy we are consuming with the hotel loads.
Let’s head inside to take a look at the ship’s dashboard:
So this screen is like the brain of the vessel, so that what gives us all the information we need with regards to all the resources on board and and all the power management. We have the exact same screen at the helm station and here inside the boat we can also have access to all the information. So on this screen specifically those indicators are more related to navigation that would be the speed and direction of the electric thrusters, we have information about the wind, this is the information about the freshwater capacity so how much autonomy we have with fresh drinking water, this is how much of the holding tank we are using so that’s going to tell us when we need to do a pump out and empty that tank. And that here is the charge of the battery, so right now that the battery is fully charged. On this other screen that would tell us how much solar power we would generate if the battery was not fully charged or the boat connected to shore power, and how much hotel loads or energy we are consuming on the vessel so that basically gives us how much autonomy we have with regards to power, to energy. Then we have indicators for different alarm system so those red dots here are related to the propulsion system which is currently shut down but that gives us information about the battery system, the inverter, all the smoke detectors, the bilge sensors in the in the in the hull so that tells us basically if anything is wrong with the system or other sensors that we have on board and ensures the safety of the vessel. And that gives us the pitch and roll of the vessel so basically to make sure it’s properly leveled.
The ship’s modular hull accomodates separate technical compartments for hydraulic, electrical and water-related equipment. Let’s go below deck and take a look inside:
So that’s the that’s the electrical room here and the battery room so let’s say the the main technical compartment of the vessel since we don’t have any generator or diesel engine or anything on board. So there in the back you can see the lithium ion battery so those two racks that was mentioning from Corvus energy. In the middle ideal power that’s the inverter so that what actually manages the energy that comes from the solar panels and transfers it to the battery to be stored, and then also redirects the energy from the battery to the propulsion. This here is just some controls in the battery management system, so a lot of things inside but basically that’s the kind of interface between everything, interface between the solar panels, the inverter, and the battery system.
So this is one of the technical compartments that’s the water room as we call it all those compartments are equipped with the ventilation system, sensors, bilge pumps etc so very safe. And on this one here for instance we have a pump system for the ballasts so we have four ballasts at each corner of the hull that we can empty or fill with water to make sure the boat is leveled when it’s floating, when it’s in the water not when it’s on the spuds. We have an air compressor so we use for different things but also to inflate some toys buoys paddle boards things like that and also for the horn. We have a central vacuum system here we have water heater system here so on this system there’s also in its design it’s also optimized to minimize the energy consumption so this kind of a heat exchanger between the water heater and the electric room or battery room cooling system, and then on the other side behind this wall we have a 4000 gallon tank for fresh water so that’s where all the rainwater that’s collected on the roof with the drain comes and then there is a filtration system here. So total we have eight levels of filtration, eight different filters so that’s the main pump and then you see different filters, carbon filter, and then the UV lights so we produce our own drinking water on board.
So this is a storage compartment we have a bunch of things here it’s like all covered with diamond plate mostly because there’s a direct access to the stern of the vessel in the swim platform, so that’s typically where you would store your water sports gear kayaks, paddleboards, dive equipment things like that. And here that’s also where we have some connections plugs, and outlets so this is the shore power cable I was mentioning we have the option of connecting to shore power just to run the boat or or charge the battery whenever we want, so that’s where we do that. Those are the freshwater tank outlets so plug to fill the freshwater tank with the hose iii case it’s not raining enoughfor several consecutive weeks. And here that’s where we do pump outs, so on this boat there’s basically two possibilities the way it’s set up now or the black and grey water is just stored into 4,000 gallon holding tank and then once or twice a month we do a pump out at the marina to empty that tank or we have space and it’s already prepared to install a marine sanitation device and that will process the black and gray water with bacteria and biological system so that the water is after being treated, is clean enough to be discharged into the ocean.
I’ve had the opportunity to check out a few different solar yachts for this channel, and while all I want to talk about is the range, top speed, and all the fun stuff, i’ve noticed a common theme that the ship’s engineers are always obsessed with climate control.
Air Conditioning and Insulation
When you asked me about the challenges of design I mean the challenges of the project generally speaking but in terms of technical design engineering, one key challenge was really to to size properly, and to optimize the design of the solar power that produces the energy, the storage, that stores kept that and provides capacity to store that that solar power that solar energy, and then the use of this energy. So being able to minimize the the energy consumption on board was really key to guarantee that the boat could operate off the grid in most cases, and would provide the maximum range. So the main things that that consume energy on board the propulsion only when the boats under navigation ,the AC, and then the lights and appliances which is like very low because it’s all LED lighting and all very low consumption high-end appliances . So the AC is that is a big challenge because we want to be able to have the temperature that we want on board, we don’t want to suffer with that, and at the same time that cannot drain the energy of the battery so we had several things we did for that. In terms of AC configuration we used a split system and it has seven different zones that we can adjust separately or independently onboard the vessel. Meaning if some areas are not used by the people on board or the guests, we can choose to have a slightly higher temperature not to to consume too much energy and if some people like the temperature lower or higher in their bedroom at night they can also fine-tune the temperature in each environment. The other thing was related to directly the design and installation of the boat, so we have closed cell foam that we use to insulate the exterior walls and the ceilings and the floors, and we have minimum six inches of closed cell foam all over the place so that that’s a great way to guarantee good thermal insulation for the internal space, and the other are the windows so we have impact windows because the the boat was designed to withstand category four hurricane winds, so we use impact windows and they have like double pane argon gas in between to help also getting a better thermal insulation. And what they call low wind cutting, so that’s kind of a thin metal layer that helps reflecting the Sun and also improving the insulation.
Everywhere the ArkUp goes its an instant attraction. As the hulking vessel sailed through Biscayne Bay, it was surrounded by a swarm of onlookers who just had to get up closer for a photo. In person the ArkUp is visually striking, like a modern miami mansion lifted from its foundation and plopped into the water.
Currently on sale for $5,500,000 million it also carries a Miami mansion price tag. ArkUp is currently producing more of these ships on custom order, and you can have your very own fully configurable Arkup starting at a price of $2,267,000.
The original ArkUp75 featured in this video is actually available for rent in Miami on AirBnb.
Being onboard the ArkUp is certainly a unique luxury experience, but the company’s mission has deeper aspirations. With sea level rise here in southeast florida projected to be 6 to 10 inches by 2030 and 14 to 26 inches by 2060, ArkUp intends to develop water based housing solutions to address the impending climate crisis. They ultimately hope to create more affordable models for the average family, and even develop floating neighborhoods.