A tale of determination, exploration and sustainability, architects Guylee Simmonds and David Schnabel are taking the trip of a lifetime on a repurposed, retired Arctic lifeboat.
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Along with their seafaring dog, Shackleton the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, these two architects have given a second life to a decommissioned lifeboat that served in the Western Isles of Scotland. While the boat was originally designed to carry 100 people in survival situations, Simmonds and Schnabel set out to repurpose and rebuild it into a self-sustaining expedition vessel. The goal was to complete the project in a little over one year, just in time to take a 3,000 mile adventure from the U.K. to the Norwegian Arctic.
The architects renamed the boat StĂ¸dig, a Norwegian word meaning â€śsound and steadfast.â€ť As the name suggests, the lifeboatâ€™s reliable and functional design was a large inspiration for its newly adapted role as a self-sustaining and minimalist expedition vessel.
The lifeboat, which was on its way to being scrapped if it had found no buyer, was bought in February 2018, and the voyage began in May 2019. The team departed from the southern British port of Newhaven before traveling along the Belgian and Dutch coast, sailing through the Kiel canal in Germany and then venturing into the Baltic Sea. The scenic route took them up the Danish and Swedish coasts past Copenhagen and Gothenburg, past Norway and up to Bergen. All along the way, Simmonds, Schnabel and Shackleton took in some of the best views the world has to offer, from showstopping sunsets and the dreamy Northern Lights to hushed evergreen forests and magnificent, snow-covered mountain landscapes.
StĂ¸dig was first gutted to provide the architects with a blank canvas, on which they could bring their ideas to life. The boat redesign incorporates two forward cabins, a dining area, kitchen, a bathroom with a composting toilet, bunk beds for guests and a stern cockpit. There are solar panels on the roof, a wood-burning stove and small wind turbines incorporated for additional sustainability. It is made of fiberglass, measuring 11 meters long and 3.5 meters wide. An important feature for exploration, a number of large, curved windows were installed to provide breathtaking panoramic views and bring in as much light as possible.