A large proportion of the Dutch population lives and works
under sea-level. Bitter experience has ensured that the country's
water management has for many years been regulated right down
to the smallest delails by ever more impressive technical methods.
Because of that, the average Dutch person hardly pays any attention
to this rather unnatural state of affairs. Artist Stefan Grob
from Germany is fascinated by this paradoxical matter of staying
dry below sea-level. This brought him to the idea that, in the
Netherlands, fish should actually live above water. In order
to give these water-based creatures the opportunity to conquer
the area lost by the Dutch, the artist designed the fishboat.
This floating building enables the fish to brave the world above
water as aquanauts. During the summer of 1999 this architecture
for fish will float on the water around the Netherlands Architecture
Institute (NAl). The glass colossus is a neat reference to the
NAI building that, owing to its open structure and large area
of surface glass, offers those within a wide view of the world
The fishboat consists of an elongated container of hardened glass,
open underneath. This object -one and a half metres tall and
wide, and an average of 25 centimetres deep - has four floats
attached to the sides. It will be placed on the water of the
NAI and then vacuum-sucked. The resulting upward pressure causes
the container to fill with water. Trials with earlier, smaller
models has revealed that after a period of habituation, the fish
swim into the container of their own accord and explore the world
above the water-level. Fish and man will then find themselves
at the same height, a situation for which a wetsuit of a storm
flood would normally be required.
As the container functions like a sail, the fishboat will float
across the water of the NAI and can therefore be viewed from
all sides. During the day solar cells will generate energy for
the batteries of the lights that ensure that the construction
is illuminated at night. The light shines from the floats of
the container and so it appears that the water is the source
Stefan Grob (1964) was born in Germany and obtained a masters
diploma as a glass-blower. He also graduated from the Kunstacademie
Saar in saarbrücken. Grob has been living and working in
the Netherlands since 1997.
In his work the artist explores light and weightlessness. Whereas
he previously worked with leaded glass, he now makes use of the
upward pressure exerted on immersed objects.