Studio DIAA designs floating home for Seattle’s Lake Union

Floating home by Studio DIAA

A dark exterior contrasts with light-toned finishes inside a compact, floating home in Washington designed by Studio DIAA co-founder Suzanne Stefan as her own home.
The Portage Bay Float Home serves as the personal residence of Stefan, who co-founded Studio DIAA in 2019. The project recently won a 2021 Housing Award from the American Institute of Architects.

Studio DIAA designed the project
The Portage Bay Float Home is in Seattle

Following a long tradition of floating homes in Seattle, the dwelling is located on the north end of Lake Union, in a spot called Portage Bay.

It was built on top of a log-float foundation dating to the early 1900s. The home sits close to the shore and has access to a garden.

Studio DIAA positioned the floating home on Lake Union
Exterior walls are clad in dark cedar

Square in plan, the home consists of a single level that totals 650 square feet (60 square metres). The building is topped with a pitched roof that flattens out as it extends over a deck.

Exterior walls are clad in dark cedar and Richlite, a composite material made of resin-infused paper. Sliding doors help erase the boundary between inside and out.

The home by Studio DIAA is divided into two sections
A light fixture above the kitchen island is made of concrete

Inside, the home is divided into two zones. One side encompasses the shared spaces  – an open kitchen and dining area, which is separated from a living room by a retractable sheer curtain.

The other side contains two bedrooms and a bathroom.

Glass doors are found in all rooms, except for the bathroom, and provide direct access to a wraparound deck. In the living room, a “zero post” corner opens the space fully to the outdoors.

Interior finishes include whitewashed pine and oak flooring. In the kitchen, stainless steel was used for the countertops and backsplash.

The floating home is in Seattle
Wood panelling is included in the main bedroom

A light fixture above the kitchen island is made of concrete – the same material used for a pendant above the dining table.

The main bedroom is fitted with white closet doors, wooden panelling, built-in open shelving and a large, globe-shaped pendant. In the bathroom, the team clad the shower in white tiles.

Skylights and wood panelling feature in the kitchen
Skylights flood the home with natural light

In addition to floor-to-ceiling glass, the home has three skylights that bring natural light into the home.

“We sought to capture the poetic quality of light reflecting off the surrounding Portage Bay waters, an aspect heightened by overhead aluminium-lined sky vessels that softly reflect the colours of the changing sky,” the team said.

Studio DIAA used light colours inside the floating home
The bathroom’s white tiles match the home’s neutral interior

Other floating homes in Seattle include a two-storey dwelling by Vandeventer + Carlander Architects that is designed so residents can go swimming directly from their bedrooms.

Photography is by Kevin Scott.

Project credits:

Architecture and interior design: Studio DIAA
Structural engineering: BUILT Engineering
General contracting: Dovetail General Contractors / @dovetail_gc
Interior and exterior finish Construction: Forrest Taylor and Geoff Gamsby

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