Floating House: new addition

Today’s ever-changing globalized world continues to force mankind to find a balance in all aspects of life. The fast pace of technological advancements, environmental degradation, economic depression and political unrest constantly act as a buoyancy force that is pushing society’s living conditions to high levels of uncertainty. As a future architect I wonder how can architecture resist this buoyant force and find its balance? Perhaps the answer lies in the inversion of living philosophies that would generate a balanced world previously seen as utopian.

The relationship between the house and its pontoons made balance and buoyancy the essence behind the architectural ideal of the new addition. While learning about the Floating House I came to reflect upon the concept of inversion of elements. Although balance and buoyancy had been the catapult of my design ideas, It was through the inversion of water and air that I was able to find the balance between the existing house and the new addition.

From the beginning I was fascinated by how a hollow metal structure filled with air could allow a house to flow in the water. The drawings produced for the midterm allowed me to see the house and its context into three layers of elements: water, earth and air. I came to admire the sensorial experience created by the interaction of the house and the earth or surface level. However, I saw potential within the two unexplored layers: water and air.

The proposed addition was then conceived as a lighthouse and underwater meditation room. The lighthouse and its 16 meters of height generate a new sensorial experience up in the air, while the meditation room creates a soothing sensorial experience underwater. The main architectural component is this case is the lighthouse, which becomes the ”anti-pontoon”.

The lighthouse o ”anti-pontoon” works opposite to the house’s pontoons by using water in order to submerge as opposed to air in order to float. From an experiential standpoint the lighthouse was conceived on the idea of making inhabitants feel surrounded by water while at ground level and floating up in the air while at the top. Structurally, the lighthouse is composed of four extruded metal columns acting as the main support that hold a series of water-filled acrylic tubes.  The lighthouse is connected to the yoga room and a hybrid pontoon system. From a systematic perspective what makes the system different is that they work as a unit by using 4 pump systems to pump lake water into acrylic tubes, weighing the yoga room down until submerging it completely. The hybrid pontoon system bellow is also partially filled in order to facilitate the sinking process of the room. Similarly to ballast tanks in submarine systems, the ”anti-pontoon” not only uses water to submerge the room, but it also blows water out in order to make both the room and lighthouse float.

ADDITION MODEL

Inhabitants have access to the glass floor at the top of the lighthouse via a series of ladders attached to the west side of the lighthouse. The ladders are broken down into sections and incorporate 4 resting points that ease the climbing process while allowing users to appreciate the vistas at different levels. The glass floor on top is meant to emphasize and enhance the floating motif used throughout the new addition. The floor uses the latest technology on anti-slip exterior glass flooring, making it safe for users.

The yoga room is accessible through a small ladder from which users enter via a floating deck connected to the house by an existing floating boardwalk.

Lighting component

At night the lighthouse makes its mark on lake Huron’s landscape by becoming a column of light that illuminates and guides residents navigating the lake by boat. The glimmering light effect is possible due to the transparency of the tubes and the water in them, which act as a light conductor and diffusor. The final effect is a modern lighthouse that detracts from using a spotlight; instead its entire structure becomes a giant lantern in the nocturnal sky.

Structural detail

corner detail shows the load-bearing extruded metal column hosting a vertical acrylic tube in its interior, which carries the water up, and distributes it to each horizontal tube.

Overall, this term has been extremely valuable in terms of knowledge and experiences gain. I truly enjoyed the term project and felt grateful for having a good relation and connection with my professor. It was also very challenging as I took risks I had not taken before, which allowed me to learn skills in model making, computer software and drawing. Most importantly it contributed to further shape my understanding of the design process and approach to architecture as a methodology of continuous study, analysis and exploration.