For those with an unbridled imagination, for fans of DIY, for those who dream of an adventurous holiday or a makeshift accommodation, here is a “custom house”.
It floats like a boat, it is very easily and quickly built, and it allows a gastronomic freedom that is more than welcome.
We are talking about the krachang, small fish farms born in Southeast Asia as a form of livelihood for the inhabitants of sea coastal strips, as they are anchored in the vicinity of channels sheltered from winds and currents.
Aesthetically – explains fisherman Andrea Mascagni, Thai by adoption, they are quite pleasant. In fact, they look like small huts with a sloping roof, and in the simplest version they include a day area, a night area, a kitchenette, an adjoining bathroom outside the structure, and a few fish tanks with a depth of minimum 1.8 meters where to keep farmed fish to feed on during people’s stay in the structure.
The building materials are readily available: styrofoam for the floating foundations, medium-to-high quality wood two centimeters thick which guarantees a longer life, a roof of metal sheets or woven palm leaves, wood columns ten centimeters in diameter for the backbone of the house, woven bamboo to cover the exterior walls, nets with a wide or narrow mesh for the fish tanks, screws and bolts to join everything together, thin wood walls or curtains to separate the spaces inside.
“The construction of a krachang – explains Mr. Rung Sun, technician from Khuraburi, in the province of Phang-Nga, Thailand, whom we interviewed – is as follows.
The base rests on a sort of platform composed of three beams, each resulting from the union of seven five-meters long axis, intersecting to about a meter and fixed together by screws and bolts. Each beam is connected by eight axes placed to form squares. The structure thus obtained will be laid on styrofoam blocks of one meter by two each, located at the intersection of the axes and joined together by braided ropes. Once the main skeleton, which will be subsequently anchored to the seabed, is built, it is time to pave the house with wood boards that are usually covered with linoleum.
The supporting pillars will then be fixed with bolts about fifteen centimeters long at the sides and at the height of the two central squares.
It will then be time to build the roof, possibly with iron sheets for better shelter from the elements. The bamboo woven walls will be fixed to the supporting pillars with screws.
In order to avoid hygienic and sanitation problems, it is recommended that the bathroom is built on a platform similar to the one of the main structure, as well as the use of a chemical toilet.
Once the housing is taken care of, the fish tanks will be tackled, fixing the nets to the boards with screws, and anchoring them to the bottom”.
The idea of floating homes is nothing new. Just make an Internet search on “floating homes” to know their history, and to find out everything there is to know. But the “house” we are suggesting here is not something generic or utilitarian: it’s only a whim since it is the idea and likeness of those who decide to build it with their own hands, not forgetting though to deal with the budget available.
In fact, these houses do not have the function of saving people from flooding during the rainy season, such as those to be found along the banks of the Amazon River, nor do they claim to increase the appeal of an already fascinating country, such as in the Netherlands where they are found galore, objects of admiration and of curiosity for tourists.
They do not even have the function of compensating for the lack of housing as it happened, for example, at the end of World War II, when many who had lost their homes ended up buying decommissioned ships, which moreover proved to be not without comforts. In this case we are talking about a different item.
Perhaps it is worth remembering the surge of young fantasy that in 2003 pushed architect Giuseppe Bifarini to submit to the Head of Special Projects at the Heritage Department of Rome an exceptional project for the construction of houseboats to be awarded to students and artists eager to live “swinging” in the not-so-blond-anymore Tevere River. Something similar to what the Parisians do along the banks of the Seine River. They were in fact talking about bringing artists’ studios, shops, clubs and accommodation to the river… It was all to complicated to be realized.
In our case, as krachang do not need to be arranged in any type of cluster, they may not be subject to any specific rule, except for those regarding hygiene which every vessel must observe, especially if found in close proximity to populated centres.
“Our area – says Luigi D’Arpino, Councillor for Environmental Policies for the Municipality of Anzio and owner of the marine agency “Il Nostromo” – could be suitable for such original facilities, especially in the channels located in the reclaimed area between Latina and Terracina, as their waters are well confined, thus tranquil. In most of them we can in fact find an osmosis of salty water and fresh water, an excellent combination for a fish farm.
We must also bear in mind that there are no such laws to allow fish farming for personal use. However, as there are also no laws that say the contrary, provided the activity is not profit driven, those pioneers who wish to test the krachang will just have to comply with the city planning rules of the chosen site, applying for acceptance to the local municipality or to other bodies involved in the supervision and control of the territory, making sure they stress the fact that the fish farm is for personal use.
In the Pontina area, for example, the control is exercised by the State Forestry office.
I believe, however, that as to build a krachang one does not need concrete nor other invasive materials, the idea could be achievable”.
This article has been published in the magazine Telos (number 16, Autumn 2005 issue) and translated from Italian by Mr. Thomas Gennaro. Is the only article that my mother, who passed away 10 years ago, wrote about Thailand.
Travelasia is publishing the English version on her 78th birthday.