Float Home / Designs Northwest Architects

© Ben Benschneider

Architects: Designs Northwest Architects
Location: , Washington,
Interior Designer: Susan Broll
Project Year: 2009
Project Area: 2,100 sqf
Photographs: Ben Benschneider

Location Description:

The Float Home is situated on Lake Union and inhabits what was one of the last unoccupied slips in the water-based neighborhood.

The Seattle Houseboat and Float Home community is unique: the residents share access and live in close proximity to one another, yet the community and home styles are very diverse. Some of this stems from the fact that the community was developed over a long period of time. The architects wanted to design a home that created a sense of history, but existing homes did little to set parameters – giving unlimited freedom with which to work.

© Ben Benschneider

As with all Float Homes, spatial limitation provides an opportunity for creative solutions.

Design Approach:

The straightforward ideals of the home called for a simple layout. The lower floor was kept open by keeping all solid structure on the exterior walls. The stair that connects the lower floor to the upper is a centrally supported with a single wide flange and allows sight lines to remain intact. The whole level connects to the exterior by way of glass overhead doors.


The upper level is a personal retreat, private from the adjacent homes through the use of small punch windows, with large expansive views out toward the water. The scale of the home allows for additional spaces such as a laundry room and guest suite.

© Ben Benschneider

The roof deck is accessible from a ground floor spiral stair, as well as a ships ladder from the master deck. This space is a nice outdoor retreat with beautiful views back toward the city.

© Ben Benschneider

The simple forms created by the exterior shape melded well with the modern lifestyle. The main floors were finished in a polished concrete which house radiant floor heat. The materials on the main floor were chosen to reflect the urban location. Western red cedar is used throughout the home. It was chosen because it is durable, sustainably harvested and fits with the design aesthetic of neighboring homes with its rich warm tones. This mix of industrial warehouse and urban loft gives the house a distinctive feel of richness.

© Ben Benschneider
Cite: "Float Home / Designs Northwest Architects" 07 Dec 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=189043>