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Boats into Buildings

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Gives a whole new meaning to the term "boathouse."

"Remnants of the Naval Research Institute cleared the mirelurks off this wreck about 40 years ago. We were looking for new lab space, and this bucket of bolts just happened to have a well-preserved science bay on it. Everything else just grew up around that lab once we got it up and running."
Horace Pinkerton on Rivet City, Fallout 3

On the occasion that a seafaring vessel is retired, it's usually broken down for scrap or sunk to create an artificial reef. But in some cases, ships get a second lease on life... on land.

When Boats Into Buildings comes into play, marine vessels are hauled out of the water and used to create permanent land-based structures. Homes are the most common example, but businesses, schools, town halls, even secret bases and storage sheds are all options.

The ships might be taken apart for raw material to create new buildings, but more often they're re-purposed without the need for too much deconstruction. In the simplest case, ships can be dragged ashore and hooked up to utilities like an RV. In others, the boats might be flipped upside down to create a sturdy, pre-built roof from the water-tight hull.

Note that these aren't just structures that superficially resemble ships - actual boats must have been used in the construction in order to qualify. This trope also tends to exclude modern craft constructed out of fiberglass, rather focusing on medium-to-large wooden boats and large metal-hulled ships. note 

In fiction, a beached boat such as this might be the home of an extra-quirky Houseboat Hero, or the retired form of a Cool Boat. Compare and Contrast with Saharan Shipwreck (when a boat on dry land serves as a surreal set piece) and City on the Water (wherein cities are constructed so as to float on the water like a boat).

Thanks to the rise of museum ships, this trope is Truth in Television, and with the preservation of a handful of ocean liners such as RMS Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth 2 - both of which have been turned into hotels - you really can live aboard a vessel that once went to sea without ever having to put even a toe into the water.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Carpenter's house of Giant Spider & Me. It also serves as a café.
  • The human settlers in Trigun eventually deconstructed their colony ships and used the materials to create the various towns that are scattered across the planet of Gunsmoke.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix and the Cauldron has an inn called "the beached pirate", which is of course, a hastily converted beached pirate ship.
  • The main characters of Habibi live in a converted boat stranded on a dune.
  • Just a Pilgrim: A downplayed example. As the Earth's oceans have dried up, the caravan the titular Pilgrim is staying with uses the wreck of the Titanic as a temporary shelter, which comes in handy when they're attacked by wasteland raiders. The raiders are wiped out, but so is the caravan, leaving the Pilgrim as the only survivor.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Zig Zags the trope. Ami's Iceburg Dungeon Ship was originally constructed in an underwater cavern before being floated to the surface to expand the structure and move about the sea. When the dungeon reaches its destination in the Avatar Islands, it is solidly affixed to the coastline with even more ice, like a glacier calving in reverse. Later chapters mention that there's an underground tunnel connecting the iceberg to the mainland.
  • Rocketship Voyager. Spaceships are routinely given second lives as construction material for planetary colonies, with their reactors used to provide power. This is a factor when Captain Janeway has to decide whether they will take the long hazardous journey back to Earth, or settle down on a planet. If they try the latter it will mean dismantling Voyager, leaving them stranded and unable to defend themselves against Orbital Bombardment.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Titan A.E., the last remnants of Humanity have chosen to live something of a nomadic life instead of collectively seeking out a new world to settle on. There are drifter colonies all over the galaxy haphazardly cobbled together from the various vessels used to escape from Earth when it was destroyed.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Hook, the pirates' town is mostly built from beached ships stacked on each other, with the stuffed crocodile used as a clock tower in the central place. There was a scripted scene of the pirates strutting up such a ship, with Captain Hook directing them as if hanging a painting, but it wasn't filmed for being too expensive.
  • Shipwreck City in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is an Exaggerated example. The town itself is built out of hundreds of scuttled ships piled haphazardly atop each other in a Shipwreck Cove, an inlet found within the dormant volcano known as Shipwreck Island. The structure of Shipwreck City easily reaches over a dozen stories into the air. No one knows precisely how old the city is, though according to legend its foundations consist of Greek triremes, Roman galleys, and dragon-prowed longships.

  • The village of Bilgewater in Dinotopia: Journey to Chandra was built from the hulls of three galleons — the Prince of the Seas, the Royal Vanguard, and the Advance — that wrecked on the reef surrounding the island. With the help of dinosaur muscle for the heavy lifting, the ships were floated to the surface, dragged to their permanent home, sawed in half, and set upright to create a unique community.
  • Discworld: The architecture of Krull in The Colour of Magic confirms to Rincewind and Twoflower that this is a culture that gets all its material from ships that get caught in the Circumfence.
    To put it bluntly, entire ships had been mortised artfully together and converted into buildings. Triremes, dhows and caravels protruded at strange angles from the general wooden chaos. Painted figureheads and Hublandish dragonprows reminded the citizens of Krull that their good fortune stemmed from the sea; barquentines and carracks lent a distinctive shape to the larger buildings.
  • In Dragonlance, the city of Tarsis was a major port until the Cataclysm changed the sea levels and made it landlocked. Some 200-300 years after the Cataclysm, some of the stranded ships have been converted into buildings.
  • Redwall: In The Legend of Luke, Vilu Daskar's ship is broken in half during the climactic battle. One of the halves, stuck between two rocks, becomes a new home for the battle's survivors.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's fantasy series The Sharing Knife the city of Graymouth includes a riverfront section known as Downtown (or "Drowntown"),where the architecture includes flatboats—which make a strictly one-way journey downriver to the river delta—hauled out of the water intact and re-used as buildings. (Or at least the most sturdily-built flatboats are re-used this way; other craft are broken up for timber, or firewood.) Their owners claim to be all ready for the next time a flood hits the city.
  • Shine On, Daizy Star: Technically, the boat in Cathy Cassidy's novel never made it onto the ocean, but when Daizy's father realized his scheme to take his family sailing around the world was not one they shared, he gave the boat away and let it become the base for the infant's new pirate-themed playground.
  • In Use of Weapons, Elethiomel converts the battleship Staberinde into a land-based fortress.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Forgotten Waters features multiple settlements that appear to be built out of recycled pirate ships. The art for "Shanty Town"/ "Devastated Town" shows buildings with roofs made of upturned ships (and chimneys made from repurposed cannons) alongside structures built of upright hulls. "Pirate Paradise" depicts the Wasted Walrus tavern with a roof constructed out of an upturned ship.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade has a hangout for vampires in San Francisco, the aptly-named "Vampire Club", built from a beached and subsequently buried yacht.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Jorrvaskr, home of the mercenary company The Companions, was built out of the Atmoran longboat of the same name.
  • Rivet City in Fallout 3 is an aircraft carrier that, following the Great War, was converted into one of the largest and most scientifically advanced settlements in the Capital Wasteland. Among the features that the Lone Wanderer can find onboard are a market, a clinic, a science lab, a bar called the Muddy Rudder, and even a hotel.
  • Fallout 4:
    • A downplayed example can be found in the FMS Northern Star, a ship that apparently ran aground after the bombs fell. Its ghoulified Norwegian crew simply turned it into a raider base.
    • In the Far Harbor DLC, the Children of Atom inhabit a submarine dry dock, complete with a submarine that's clearly not going anywhere soon.
  • Many of the buildings in Lion's Arch and other areas occupied by pirates in Guild Wars 2 appear to be made from ships. Notable examples include the Guild Initiative Headquarters and the Crow's Nest Tavern (both before and after reconstruction).
  • The King's Quest franchise includes multiple examples:
  • League of Legends and Legends of Runeterra: Boats as parts of buildings are a common architectural feature of the sea-serpent-hunting (and occasionally pirating) city of Bilgewater. When Butcher's Bridge is the active ARAM map in League, you can actually see a few in the background, while the Bilgewater cosmetic board in Legends of Runeterra might also be an in-game case of this.
  • Mad Max (2015): Wasteland leader Gutgash and his tribe live inside of a ship in a dried-up part of the ocean and work on rebuilding it to be sturdy in case the water ever comes back (and to make it more defensible against War Boy marauders).
  • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge has Woodtick, which on first glance just seems like a bunch of dockworks with ships attached, but these haven't gone anywhere in a long time and function as bars, inns and shops.
  • Monster Hunter: WorldAstera's Gathering Hub and the Third Fleet base are both built from the ships the Hunters used to sail to the New World.note  Quite how Astera's ship made it to the top of a cliff is another story.
  • Potionomics: As described by rookie hero Mint, the barracks at the Rafta branch of the Heroes Guild are built out of the ship used by the adventuring party that took down Maven the Witch Queen.
  • RuneScape: In Runescape 3, some Player Owned Port bars feature an upper deck made from a boat.
  • In SPY Fox in Dry Cereal, SPY Corp has set up its Acidophilus base in the cabin of a ship that is buried underground. Only the ship's bow can be seen aboveground, where it is disguised as a phone booth. Fox has to enter a special phone number in the "phone booth" in order to activate a secret elevator to access the base.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Zaton is a swamp that houses a few rusty derelict ships. The biggest and most well-preserved of them, the Skadovsk, is the central point of the whole region and where you can find several traders and the resident weapons tech; it even has power, thanks to stalkers repairing the ship's engine to work as a generator.
  • A downplayed example can be found in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: a rock troll is accidentally recruited by the Redanian army and joins up with a unit who are trying to protect a fleet of boats that have been "requisitioned" from some peasants. In an unusually literal case of Insane Troll Logic, the troll decides "boats guard boats!", rips some of the boats apart and uses the timber to build a crude fence to protect the rest of the fleet.

  • The secret base of the Swiddentown pirates in Tiger, Tiger is a upturned ship hidden away in a coastal cave.

    Web Videos 
  • The third campaign of Critical Role opens in the Marquesian city of Jrusar, which contains the general magical goods shop "The Trove of Marwa." The shop is described in Episode 12 as a wooden ship set down on the Lantern Spire, far from the ocean. note  According to current proprietor Marwa Endalia, a storm swept the ship up and deposited it in Jrusar. Her father gained custody of the ship from a city official who owed him a favor, eventually sprucing it up and converting it into a shop.
    Imogen: Was this your ship?
    Marwa: This was our ship. It was a ship. It's a weird thing. There was a wild storm about 20 or so years ago.
    Imogen: A storm?
    Marwa: A storm, to the north, near the port town, just past the mountain range. A water spout just picked up a ship and dropped it right here in the middle of the spire. At first, there was the intent to destroy it, but well, the Mahaan house that was trying to do that owed my dad a big favor, and so he asked if he could go ahead and take over the ship as opposed to demolishing it. He said, if you can manage to make it not a genuine eyesore, and, uh... that's what we did. So it's still kind of an eyesore, but it's not as bad of an eyesore as it was.
  • In the Fantasy High campaign of Dimension 20, Fabian Seacaster lives in a giant dry-docked ship, since his father is a semi-retired pirate captain.

    Western Animation 
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: The Bizarrchitecture treehouse bases from which KND agents operate are constructed out of a combination of local buildings, monuments, and vehicles — which often includes ships:
    • The Treehouse in Sector V, out of which the protagonists operate, includes the prow of a large cruise ship.
    • Greek Sector Treehouse has two cruise ships incorporated into the structure.
    • Peruvian Sector Treehouse has what looks like an old fishing trawler incorporated into the structure.
    • Kids Next Door Arctic Training Base and Prison plays with the trope: the "treehouse" is built into the roots of a lone pine tree that appears to grow out of the arctic ice, with salvaged structures including a large cruise ship hidden below the surface. Not technically land-based, but it fits the spirit of the trope.
    • The Central Bike Hub in Sequoia National Park, California is built into the branches of a Redwood tree and includes a large ship.
    • Zigzagged in the Deep Sea Science Lab, with is underwater. The salvaged oil platform and cruise ship that make up the base are tethered to the ocean floor by seaweed, resembling the treehouses operatives utilize on land.
    • Despite being on the moon, the first KND Moonbase included both a cargo ship and a submarine in the structure.
    • The Seriously Cool Museum of Artifacts and Stuff was built with what looks like a Spanish galleon in the branches of the tree.
    • The Super Convention Center, perched in the branches of a tree atop the Empire State Building, has a large cruise ship parked on top of an airport as part of the design.
    • Sector J's Treehouse base, in Jamaica, is a treehouse built on a palm tree. A large cruise ship with what looks like a cannonball hole in the side is part of the design.
    • The Sector U Treehouse in Guatemala appears to have a small boat hung on a lower bough.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: Most structures in the Viking village of Berk are built out of Viking longships, and the iconography of the dragon figureheads at the prow of the ships is carried over into the architectural trappings. Fearsome "Monstrous Nightmare", "Deadly Nadder", and "Hideous Zippleback" dragon head carvings adorn the gables of houses and the village's meeting hall.
  • Middlemost Post: Middlemost Post was originally Angus's boat before it crashed during a storm, as seen in the opening sequence.
  • Mike, Lu & Og: Lu and Og's houses are built from the wreckage of the ship that brought their ancestors to the island of Albonquetine.
  • Monster High: Escape from Skull Shores: Andy Beast was travelling by boat when a storm stranded it at Skull Shores. It's unknown what happened to the passengers other than Andy — they may have survived and left Andy to fend for himself or they may have perished. Andy, in any case, used his kaiju-esque alternate form to refashion the back half of the boat into a treehouse, which remained his home until he moved to Monster High.
  • The Simpsons: In a flashback from "Gone Maggie Gone", a band of nuns sails to the New World on a ship, which they then flip over to use as their convent.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: The show Plays With the trope where it overlaps with Shipshape Ship Wreck. The homes and businesses of the underwater city of Bikini Bottom all have a nautical theme to them, naturally including boats and parts of boats (alongside other maritime flotsam, jetsam, lagan and derelict) in the construction. Most of the buildings appear to be made from old smokestacks, but there are examples of structures made from repurposed boats:
  • TaleSpin: The episode "Her Chance To Dream" reveals that Louie's bar is a derelict ship that he remodeled. The ghost of the ship's captain then tries to take it back while romancing Rebecca.
  • Thundarr the Barbarian: In the episode "Raiders of the Abyss" Thundarr visits a tribe that lives in the ancient wreck of a beached cruise ship. The chief of the tribe wears the old captain's hat and uniform as a sign of his authority.

    Real Life 
  • The French village of Équihen-Plage is renowned for the number of boat-roofed houses made from small fishing boats stranded on the beach during the early 1900s. The bases of these houses were constructed from wood or stone and the boats (dragged up from the shore) would be turned upside down, covered in tar to ensure they remained watertight, and used as the roof. The village earned the nickname "Quartier des Quilles en l'Air," or, "the neighborhood of keels in the air." Though most of the original boat-homes were destroyed during WWII, a resurgence of interest in local history in the 1990s resulted in the reconstruction of a small commune of these houses as rental properties.
  • Fishermen on Lindisfarne are known to recycle their old herring boats by sectioning them out, installing doors, and turning them into small sheds for tools and nets.
  • The house at 200 Descanso Ave., Avalon, on Santa Catalina Island in California was built using material from ''two'' ships. The second floor of the house still resembles an old ship's bridge.
  • MV Dulous Phos, notable for once being the oldest passenger ship in service (from the year 1914 - 2009), was converted into a stationary hotel upon retiring. The Dulous Phos was hauled out of the water and dry-docked permanently on a custom-built, anchor-shaped artificial island/ pleasure pavilion in the Riau Archepelago.
  • Similarly, the famous RMS Queen Mary and the Japanese ocean liner Hikawa Maru have been converted into museums and hotel ships in Long Beach and Yokohama respectively. While they are floating, they're legally classified as buildings.
  • Star of Kodiak (formerly the liberty ship Albert M. Boe) was moored in Alaska as a floating cannery in 1965. Over the years the cannery's operation expanded considerably, and the ship became completely surrounded by fill and the growing facility. Today the Star of Kodiak is now completely landlocked, and still serves as the main office of Trident Seafoods.
  • Clearman's Galley is a restaurant nicknamed "The Boat" in San Gabriel, CA that used to have its kitchen in a converted vintage boat. It was torn down and moved to make way for a short-lived Kohl's in 2008, with a replica of the boat being used out front of the new location rather than having guests walk through it to order their meals as had been the case previously.
  • During the 1849 California Gold Rush, many ships that arrived in San Francisco were abandoned in the harbor when the crew deserted to go dig for gold. These ships were used as dwelling places and commercial residences for the growing city, and gradually the harbor was filled in and neighborhoods sprung up around them. Few survive today, but construction in San Francisco's financial district sometimes reveals old ships buried underneath skyscrapers.
  • After the American Revolution, Manhattan's shoreline was artificially extended to create more usable land. The river was filled in with scrap material including old ships. As in the San Francisco example above, the ships turn up underneath buildings to this day, including one 200-year-old sloop found below the World Trade Center.
  • While it can't be proven, tradition holds that the timbers of the Mayflower, the ship that brought the Pilgrims to the Plymouth Colony in 1620, were used several years later to construct what's now called the Mayflower Barn in Buckinghamshire, England.
  • The Benson Ford Laker (built in 1924 to haul ore across the great lakes for the Ford Motor Co.) was turned into a private house after it's sailing days were over. Decommissioned in 1981, the ship was disassembled in 1986 with the forward superstructure (including the forecastle deck) removed and transported by the barge to South Bass Island (also called Put-in-Bay) in Ohio, East of Toledo and South of Detroit. On arrival it was raised nearly two stories out of the water and situated on a rocky cliff that overlooks the lake. There's even a website dedicated to the structure, complete with photos of the ship while it was still in use and interior photos of the five bedroom, five bath home after renovations.
  • Museum Ships can occasionally dip into this trope, depending on how they are maintained; some, such as the USS Missouri or Russian Cruiser Aurora remain free-floating, allowing them to be moved via towing (though some actually retain their propulsion, allowing them to move on their own) for maintenance and public events. Others, however, play this trope straight, such as the Japanese battleship Mikasa and the submarine USS Drum having been encased in concrete and relocated onto land, respectively, as permanently stationary structures.
  • In a moment that almost seemed like the submarine was yearning to return to the sea, USS Batfish was refloated off the dry land it normally sits on at Muskogee, Oklahoma during heavy flooding in 2019, and actually remained watertight, though water was pumped into its ballast tanks for the first time in decades to prevent it from listing.