Design Individuality

The long history of houseboats in Seattle is a testament to the pioneering spirit and perseverance of the people in the Pacific Northwest. Ingenuity, creativity and tenacity are the prevalent traits of the owners of these colorful homes on Lake Union. It was important for our Yakima client that the design of the houseboat convey an identity that celebrated the fun-loving context of the surrounding homes. KDA’s main design approach was centered on having the architecture and interiors merge with the surroundings.


The following concept statement can be used to identify the character of the houseboat:

“Open sense of space with the water.
Rich in texture and pattern, tied to place.
Lake Union, shore Duwamish Tribe, Muckleshoot.
Northwest Coast, Salish Shed, Cedar, Hemlock and Brush.
The house will float quietly like a heavy textured duck blind in the fog.”

The design expression of the houseboat is unique in its efforts to showcase attributes from the homes constructed by the original settlers of the Lake Union shore. In Coastal Salish design, large post and beam structures were used to create wide open spaces. That idea of openness can be seen in the interior design of the houseboat where a contemporary post and beam Vierendeel truss spans across the space. The exterior of Northwest Indian structures also had a strong connection to nature. Typically, the structures were covered by large wood planks harvested from the Conifer Forest. In a similar fashion, the houseboat is sheltered by large planks of poplar tree bark adding rich organic texture to the composition. The choice of materials and their strategic placement throughout the houseboat helps create a strong historical connection that is reinterpreted in a contemporary way.