Floating On founder
In this article

There is a running joke that a Singaporean’s way of proposing is by asking their other half if they’d want to buy a flat together. Although far from the ideal romantic gesture, it accurately fits the local context.

Unless a couple aims to purchase a private estate or an existing flat within the resale market, prior to the pandemic, a Built-to-Order (BTO) flat takes an average time of two to three years to build. 

Covid-19 brought closed borders and a lack of manpower, thus halting and delaying most construction projects. Couples are then left with a long wait time of approximately three to five years.

FloatingOn’s founder, 41-year-old Audrey Leong, wanted to focus on a solution to reduce the time and cost it takes to build houses, simultaneously helping those facing construction delays or looking for alternative housing.

During my business trip to a conference in Europe, most of the hotel rooms were fully booked. Instead of paying 100 Euros for a room per night, I decided to book a boat for the trip and it was the best decision I made.

I was always looking forward to waking up to the gorgeous sunrise view and coming back to dinner by the water, and I thought, it would be great to have this in Singapore — a land-scarce country surrounded by water bodies.

– Audrey Leong, founder of FloatingOn

With FloatingOn, Leong’s goal is to provide an alternative affordable, modular, and sustainable floating accommodation to meet the needs of affected current individuals, as well as future generations that might encounter housing challenges.

How do these floating houses work?

FloatingOn redefines urban living with its floating accommodations on water, which is slated to be launched sometime in 2023.

The structures are modular and sustainable, low-cost, and can be built within a short period of time. It is also able to reduce waiting time for new builds by 60 per cent, and bring down the overall build cost by 20 per cent.

Homes in Singapore typically take at least three to five years to build, and it has to be constructed mostly onsite. FloatingOn’s accommodations can be built within six to eight months, depending on the number of units.

– Audrey Leong, founder of FloatingOn
Floating on housing
Mockup of FloatingOn’s housing / Image Credit: FloatingOn

The initial stage of the floating accommodations are for short-term stays before partnering with relevant parties — government agencies, hotels, developers, and other companies — to develop these spaces into homes.

Rental units will be on a lease arrangement based on a certain number of years. The accommodations can also be purchased. FloatingOn will ship it in the general container, allowing for fast deployment.

The exact locations and prices of the accommodations will only be revealed during its launch, but Leong reveals that the plan is to build within the central and suburban areas of Singapore.

The locations are decided based on the type of water bodies, its geographical distance to amenities such as transport, food, and tourism, as well as the water depth, water stability, surroundings, and electricity, fresh water, and sewage points.

Bringing sustainable living to the next level

As a new concept, FloatingOn faces its fair share of challenges. Mainly, people will need to get used to a new living concept and alternative lifestyle on water bodies.

Additionally, Singapore depends heavily on its water bodies so ensuring that the quality of the water is not affected is key to FloatingOn.

Leong also addresses the concern of environmental impact and pollution created by building the accommodations on water.

When developing the design and structure, our team ensures there will be no leakage from our floating accommodations. At the same time, said building structures stimulate aquatic life and biodiversity in the surroundings of these structures by creating new habitats and providing shelter for smaller and juvenile fish, in turn having a positive impact on the environment.

– Audrey Leong, founder of FloatingOn

Less waste is also produced due to its prefabricated nature, thus allowing for eco-friendly construction site management.

Not only is FloatingOn aiming to create an urban floating ecosystem embedded within the city, the accommodations are supported by solar energy and an efficient water management system. This minimises waste and also respects the surrounding biodiversity. 

Floating on at Innovfest
FloatingOn at Innovfest 2022 / Image Credit: FloatingOn

She further explains how the innovations contribute to a more sustainable future.

The floating accommodations are modular and prefabricated, hence it can be scaled up quickly with minimal time and manpower. The shorter build time also lessens the environmental impact posed by typical construction sites.

“The accommodations have the potential to utilise a diverse range of renewable energy sources. They are designed to withstand upcoming effects of climate change and use energy in a more sustainable way. The goal is to eventually create an off-grid living environment.”

Factoring in overcrowding of cities and scarce urban land, Leong added that building modern and sustainable floating accommodation on water offers an opportunity to utilise untapped water space.

Expanding to overseas markets

In its initial stages, FloatingOn participated in the National University of Singapore (NUS) Venture Building Programme in January 2021. This entrepreneurial arm of NUS is supported by Enterprise Singapore, which helps aspiring new entrepreneurs get their feet off the ground.

Leong also mentions that they were awarded the SG Founder Grant from NUS Enterprise and Enterprise SG in June 2021.

“It has been a very steep learning curve, at the same time, a very exciting and enriching journey. We are grateful to our mentors and partners who’ve been with us throughout,” Leong said.

Earlier this year, FloatingOn also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a developer to bring the floating accommodation to life. The team is looking forward to the launch in 2023, and are already in the process of engaging relevant government agencies.

These include the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Public Utilities Board (PUB), Building and Construction Authority (BCA), as well as the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Seeing as it has plans to expand to the overseas market within the next two years, they are also currently in talks with overseas governments, hotels, and developers.

Featured Image Credit: FloatingOn

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)