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Spotlight: Portage Bay Float Home, 2021 GRAY Awards Finalist

A closer look at Portage Bay Float Home, one of five finalists in the 2021 GRAY Awards Residential Architecture category.

Portage Bay Float Home

Floating home residential architecture design on Lake Union, Seattle by Studio DIAA

Floating home modern kitchen in neutral tones on Lake Union, Seattle

Continuing Seattle's long tradition of floating homes and houseboats, this compact residence, situated along the north end of Lake Union, meets the needs of a small family of three who wished to create a new home on an original log float foundation from the early 1900s. Studio DIAA's design embodies a holistic approach to maximizing efficiency: the home’s compact layout provides ample space for the young family, embodying a mentality of doing more with less. Two bedrooms shift the majority of the home’s area to the common areas, and the window and skylight system creates connection to the outdoors while taking up minimal space inside. A five-foot-wide cedar deck wraps around the home, while large floor-to-ceiling window doors allow the compact footprint to feel more generous.

Floating home modern kitchen in neutral tones on Lake Union, Seattle

A key design concern was to establish a connection with the natural and built context, while also creating a highly efficient building envelope for energy efficiency and human comfort. The building skin is clad in an open rainscreen with blackened-stained cedar siding that helps the home recede into its surroundings. The exterior cedar deck will silver over time, helping to amplify the contrast between the dark exterior and the soft, light interior. The home’s motorized skylights along with the sliding door panels allow for cross-ventilation in Seattle’s temperate climate.


Design Team:

Suzanne Stefan

Drew Shawver

Mario Martino

Christian Campbell

Alessandro Zanella

Meg Wallich

Anna Perez


General Contractor: Dovetail

Exterior and Interior Finish Coordination: Forrest Taylor and Geoff Gamsby

Structural Engineer: BUILT Engineering

Casework: Oxbow Fabrication

Metalwork: Matt Kelly

Photography: Kevin Scott

Date of Completion: August 2020


Additional Architecture, Residential finalists:

Full House

Hill Country Wine Cave

Mar Vista Residence

Tongass Ledge

Check out the Quick List to see all of the 2021 GRAY Awards finalists!


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DEC 10, 2021 | 7pm PST

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