moonier boathouse

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Dennis & Victoria Moonier hired Emily Réfi to transform their 60′s boathouse into a floating weekend retreat on the Columbia river. With a shared appreciation of modernity, compact living and sustainability, Emily designed a 480sf residence above 1280sf of boat storage, utility and shop space in collaboration with Monte Ypma.

The living quarters were pulled back from the lower walls like a ship’s “bridge” and capped with a floating roof plane that provides passive solar and shelter from the harsh Oregon marine elements. The steel stair pauses at an intermediate deck for a view of Mt. Hood while keeping the height compatible with neighboring structures. New walls were brightened up with marine-colored corrugated metal and natural cedar siding. Like ship quarters, features like a fold-up bed and panes of glass on opposite walls make the compact space feel generous. Wrap-around decks are surrounded by minimal cable railings for unobstructed views of the river.

Dennis would act as general contractor and complete most of construction work himself to maximize a modest budget. Challenging site logistics led to creative and efficient means. Materials had to be carried down a steep, narrow ramp, then pushed by handcart down a 600’ dock. Steel I-beams and a custom prefabricated stair were transported down the river by tug-crane. All demolished lumber was reused on site or within the marina. A patina of original metal wall cladding was left in tact to relate to surrounding buildings while conserving resources.

Decisions were made along the way to maximize energy efficiency within a tight budget. The cantilevered roof plane shields direct summer sun while welcoming direct light in the winter. Triple-paned windows, spray insulation and clever detailing provide a tight shell while simultaneously mitigating noise from nearby PDX landing strips. The residence is efficiently heated with a mini-split heatpump, and a PV array will be installed to achieve a goal of net-zero energy.

photos by scott gerke


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