Lake Union Floating Home

Lake Union Floating Home

Washington, USA – Vandeventer + Carlander Architects

Floor Area:      2,824 sq.ft. internal + 887 sq.ft. of decks  (261 m2 + 82 m2)
Project Year:      2008
Photography:      Ben Benschneider

Floating homes are almost as rare as hen’s teeth here in Australia. In fact, even Sydney Harbour – one of the world’s largest and most protected waterways, has exactly four floating homes. Areas like Lake Eildon and the Gold Coast have a few houseboats, but they are for vacation use only. Australia’s waterways are considered public property so it’s always surprising to see the way some other countries have embraced the concept of floating homes. The canal boat homes in the UK and parts of Europe come to mind but the true ‘homes’ are found in the USA and Canada.

A true home that happens to be floating!
A true home that happens to be floating!

At better than 3,600 sq. ft., this is a big home by any standard. It uses modern building materials and features and functions just like any suburban home except for one thing… it floats.

For a better appreciation of the views that surround this home, rooms are arranged differently from a typical house as the bedrooms are located on the lower floor while living area and kitchen are located on the upper level. This proves to be a good strategy since the owners can wake up to the sound of lapping water while the owners and their guests get an elevated view of showing Seattle’s Space Needle, Queen Anne Hill and Gas Works Park.  

Architect’s Notes:

“The massing of the house is an exercise in carving; the challenge was to meet the clients’ needs for space yet develop an envelope that is visually interesting and coherent. Various decks are recessed into the volume and changes in materials and surfaces provide accents that speak to differentiated interior uses. A translucent stair tower “knits” the two floors together and becomes a central visual element. Large sliding doors on the upper level open the interior to the exterior thereby enhancing the connection of living spaces to the surrounding lake. In bedrooms, the placement of glazed doors and windows was carefully considered to maximize views, to accentuate visual connections to the neighboring floating home community, and to provide natural light. Exterior materials were chosen for their aesthetic qualities and low maintenance. Aluminum panels cladding the entry level bathrooms complement the storefront windows on that floor. The upper level features rain screen cladding with fiber cement panels. These integrally colored panels complement the lighter toned Alaskan yellow cedar framed windows. The exterior composition is a direct reflection of internal uses. Interior materials were carefully chosen to complement the owners’ furnishings and color palate. The selection of woods such as mahogany for entry level casework and zebrawood on upper level cabinets build on the clients’ rich and eclectic furniture collection. Light hued bamboo flooring and Alaskan yellow panels at walls and ceilings recede into the background allowing the stronger furnishing elements to come forward. In response to environmental concerns, the location and treatment of glazing promote passive heating and cooling while providing abundant natural light. Sun screens and overhangs provide effective summer shading. Efficient hydronic in-floor heating utilizes an energy efficient heat pump system and the fresh air ventilation system utilizes an energy saving heat exchanger.”

Floating houses are an interesting concept, but would you miss being able to step out into your garden?

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If you like the idea of living on the water, you’ll enjoy our collection of eclectic houseboats and floating homes