Launch Slideshow

Floating Guest House

Floating Guest House

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    Art Grice

    Rugged on the outside, light and airy inside, the houseboat's finger-jointed cedar shingle siding recalls a fishing cabin.

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    Art Grice

    The abundant use of windows, reflective materials, and built-in storage keeps the small space from feeling claustrophobic.

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    Art Grice

    Wood for the floors was salvaged from the Columbia River.

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    Art Grice

    A corrugated metal roof and cedar channel siding befit the nautical setting.

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    Art Grice

    The built-ins are made of birch plywood.

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    Art Grice

    Subtle spatial divisions make the house feel larger than it is.

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    Art Grice

    The ship's ladder with slip-jointed stair tread.

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    Courtesy Studio Hamlet Architects

    Site plan of the floating guest house and main house.

The judges pronounced this floating cottage “compact and beautifully crafted, built like a boat on the inside and like a fisherman's cottage outside.” Its concrete platform was the testing ground for the client's recently completed main houseboat, which also sits atop a concrete float rather than on traditional logs. “The owners want to retire here and were adamant about not having to deal with replacing rotted logs,” says Studio Hamlet Architects principal Russell Hamlet.

That peace of mind was achieved inside, too, where clever design and well-chosen materials make the guest cabin feel larger than its 433 square feet. It's open, yet subdivided: A sunlit sleeping loft provides a getaway, and its ship's ladder subtly screens the living and dining areas while allowing the eye to look through it. Lest the owners forget they're on the water, a corrugated metal ceiling echoes the ripples outside.

Project Credits
Entrant/Architect:
Studio Hamlet Architects, Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Builder:Even Construction, Tigard, Ore.
Living space: 433 square feet
Site: 0.01 acre
Construction cost: $320 per square foot
Photographer: Art Grice