The Boathouse: Sculpted Object In The Landscape For Family


The Boathouse was designed for a writer and her husband, it is a seaside family residence by Maguire + Devine Architects. This houseboat is perched on the banks of the river Derwent in Southern Tasmania, Australia. The site is a small residence with a lush garden the home of the Myrtle family in their medieval dress. It celebrates the experience of living by the water, and offers protection from the wild weather that blows in from the sea.

Combining modern design elements with traditional charm, this beautiful project is a dream home for families who want to be closer to nature without sacrificing privacy. Its waterfront location, the boathouse offers prospect and protection while carefully managing the degree of privacy from the northern approach and public road to the south.


Clearly felt on all sides, the building is conceived as a sculptural object in the landscape, an envelope shaped according to the specific contextual and climatic conditions of its place. The grand facade faces north, catching the sunlight over the hilltop and pulling it deep into the plan. The scale and presence of the height of the wood cladding gives off a warm feeling, inviting anyone into the site.

Standing perpendicular to the waterfront, the saddle height sits balanced above the pedestrian walkway below, reminding us that the houseboat is heritage registered in Cornelian Bay across the River. Extruded back into the site, the gable forms a dramatic central living space with clean perspective lines that end unobstructed at the glass, drawing the occupant’s eye to the view.


The exterior looks like metal cladding which is dark and visually recessive. The low side of the gable further reduces the apparent scale, but the form remains strong and confident in this prominent and exposed location. While inside the wet area, the spaces are colorful and intimate, accentuating the interior’s sense of privacy and while framing views of the water through portholes.

The decks to the east and west stretch like a pier into the garden, providing views of the water to the south while basking in the northern sun. There is a door that connects each deck through the living area, creating a dais which is located in the main room. The deck is low to the ground, eliminating the need for a balustrade, thereby enhancing the connection between the building, garden and river.


The boathouse is 60 square meters in area, the additional residential footprint complies with council regulations for size, yet offers generosity through dramatic high ceilings and a warm, cozy interior. The boathouse creates a sense of intimacy and grandeur, celebrating the experience of being right on the water.












designer: Maguire + Devine Architects


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