Whether lining a river bustling with rowing crews or sitting calmly at the edge of a lake, boathouses have a storied history and an inexplicable romance to match their unusual program. Designed for use as a training facility for elite rowers, a vacationer’s waterfront playground, shoreline retreat, or even as a historical preservation project, boathouses captivate the imagination as they transcend the limits of the land-form relationship on their site.
Leaving land creates a number of challenges and opportunities for an architect, particularly in creating a stable base for a building on the edge of dry land. As seen in the following collection of contemporary boathouse projects, waterfront structures can tower over the water on piles, float on a buoyant platform, or perch comfortably on the coast and connect to the water with an extended boat ramp. The relationship between a waterfront building and its corresponding body of water encompasses every aspect of a project’s architecture—affecting climate, humidity, noise, light, and particularly the panoramic views out across the water from upper floors and elevated balconies.
To celebrate a summer of cooling off by the water, here’s a collection of 10 newly-constructed or renovated boathouses (and one bonus resort complex) that take amphibious architecture to a new level.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Chicago, IL, USA
Boston, MA, USA
Worcester, United Kingdom
Mosterøy, Rennesøy, Norway
Lake of the Woods, Canada
Muskoka Lakes, Canada
Parry Sound District, ON, Canada
Orio, Basque Country, Spain
Boat Rooms on the Fuchun River / The Design Institute of Landscape and Architecture China Academy of Art
Mei Cheng Da Dao, Jiande Shi, Hangzhou Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China