Outside and in, from the curved wood cladding to the swooping wooden ceilings, this undulating houseboat design by Robert Oshatz, located in Portland, Oregon, evokes the dynamic movement of the river water on which it floats.
The series of intersecting and overlapping organic forms creates a sense of constant movement that is clearly inspired by surrounding waves but likewise reflects the never-still nature of the structure itself. More than just a clever aesthetic trick, however, this repeated form also serves a series of architectural functions, from defining interior volumes to letting in exterior natural light at both ends and along the roof line.
The repetitive use of wood both inside and out also enhances the nautical theme of the home, giving residents the abstract sense that they are within a curved sea-faring wooden vessel as much as they are floating inside of a house. Wide-open views of the water are balanced by beautiful but privacy-protecting wood-shingled surfaces on the dock side of the structure.
“The Fennell Residence presented a unique challenge as the site was ‘on’ the Willamette River as opposed to ‘by’ the river. The project is focused on the poetry of the ripples and contours of the river, it’s never ending flow, the view, and the interrelationship concerning the play of the sun and moon as it courses through the days of the year. Curved glue laminated beams were used to capture the timeless sense of flowing water and time passing to imbue the space within and its relationship with the river creating a spiritual and poetic sense of space.”
“The Fennell Residence belongs on the water; if it were built anywhere else it would make little sense. Whether it is the undulating forms, which seem to follow the ebb and flow of the water or the expanse of glazing that throws back a reflection of the sky just as the water beneath it does The Fennell Residence dissolves into the river.”