Lake Union Floating Home / Vandeventer + Carlander Architects

© Ben Benschneider

Architects: Vandeventer + Carlander Architects
Location: Seattle, Washington,
Structural Engineer: Swenson Say Faget
Marine Engineer: Headway Marine
Residence Contractor: dBoone Construction
Float Contractor: Trend Construction
Floor Area: 2,824 SF Interior / 887 SF Exterior
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Ben Benschneider

Continuing a long and distinguished history of floating homes in Seattle, this new floating home is located on Lake Union, in the heart of the city. Offering panoramic views south of downtown Seattle, Queen Anne Hill to the west, and Gas Works Park northward, this home takes full advantage of its location. The clients requested a contemporary home which would provide the spaces required for comfortable living and gracious entertaining. The final design strives to meet these performance needs in a house that transforms what could be a banal “box” into one with architectural integrity.

exploded axo

Given a limited allowable footprint and the desire of the owner to maximize both interior living and outdoor entertaining spaces, the plan flips the typical residential model by locating public spaces on the upper level and private spaces on the entry level. This strategy allows for the consolidation of entertaining spaces in one large space on the upper level with direct access by circular stair to a rooftop deck. The design promotes flexibility of use and affords maximum exposure to views and light for the living areas.

© Ben Benschneider

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.

east elevation

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 clientsí 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.

© Ben Benschneider

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.

Products in this project

Construction materials, Semi-finished materials: American Fiber Cement Corporation, Pental Granite and Marble

  • Siding: Fiber Cement by American Fiber Cement Corporation
  • Countertops: Limestone by Pental Granite and Marble

Floor: Concrete Restoration Inc., Ann Sacks, Advanced Floor Design

  • Flooring: Ground and Polished Concrete by Concrete Restoration Inc.
  • Bath Tile: Glass by Ann Sacks
  • Flooring: Bamboo by Advanced Floor Design

Joinery: Unison Windows, Kawneer North America

  • Cedar Wood Doors and Windows: Yellow Cedar by Unison Windows
  • Metal Doors and Windows: Aluminum by Kawneer North America
Cite: "Lake Union Floating Home / Vandeventer + Carlander Architects" 08 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 Apr 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=58850>

16 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Beautiful- almost like a Domino on water.. But there is an increadible amount of space allocated to storage/household- is it so necessary?

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      I have a boat that is moored 3 blocks north of the houseboat and have to say on a lake that is known for it’s numerous variations of floating homes it truly is a work of art. I can’t think of anything they could have done to improve on a spectacular home in a very spectacular setting. Each time I drive by it on the water I marvel at what a fantastic solution the architects have created. My compliments to a job very well done. I’m very jealous!

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    There’s a basement?

    Question: Do these floating homes ever move? Just curious.

    Would love to live in one, once the kids get old enough.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This house is incorrectly tagged below the title as being in “Washington DC” when it’s in Seattle.

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