Sunday, August 8, 2010

Precedent 2 - Community Rowing Boathouse/Anmahian Winton Architects

The Community Rowing Boathouse, by Anmahian Winton Architects, is located along the Charles River in Boston, and provide Community Rowing Inc, a non-for-profit rowing orgnaisation with better facilities including storage for 170 boats, exercise rooms, classrooms, locker rooms, a boat repair shop and administrative spaces.


The Boathouse consists of two structures, one a dedicated boat hanger, purely for boat storage and the main boathouse, which incorporates storage, boat repair and entry on the ground floor with training and administration on the top floor.

The main boathouse is made up of two volumes loosely categorised as the service spaces and the served spaces with circulation running through the middle. The articulation of the two volumes gives definition to what could have been an overwhelming single mass. Also the single band of windows running around the visible facades of the main volume emphasising the horizontal.

The boathouse is located between a highway and the Charles River so the two storey height, not only mediates between the two, but also acts a signpost for the organisation to the passing motorists on the highway.


Circulation through the building is largely through the central spine between the two volumes of the building, with the stairs and lift located along this line. Circulation also occurs through the boat storage areas.

Internal Space:

With the circulation occurring along the central spine of the building, all the inhabitant spaces are located on the periphery and are accessed by natural light.

The façade of the boat storage and amenity areas are permeable allowing light and natural ventilation without using large amounts of glass.

By nad large the internal spaces are pragmatic, with structure and services exposed, but the proportions, particularly the heights of the spaces, make for light, airy comfortable spaces for the rowers to train and learn in.


The cladding for main boathouse, are timber panels that are used differently for the two volumes. The panels on the main storage and training areas are long panels with alternate panels folding out at the middle of the ground faced creating gaps through which light and air can enter the ground floor storage area, as well as providing a façade riverfront that is shifting and dynamic.

The secondary volume of the main boathouse uses the same timber but in shingle form, which are applied to form wavy lines across the façade, which results with gaps occurring in the facade. These are utilised by windows located within the wall behind for light and ventilation to the amenities behind, while maintaining a uniform façade.

Shingles are again repeated but in glass on the secondary boat storage building allowing views through the storage area, but protecting the boats from UV components of sunlight.

Relevance to the Boat Park + Marine Base:

The Community Rowing Boathouse is helpful in developing the practical spatial arrangements of a boating facility both in terms of the Marine Base itself but more specifically for the public boat hanger that will be located within the Bank Street Park.

The Boathouse also challenges the idea of a façade as a single, solid surface and as well as relationship between different volumes and their respective materials. In a similar way to the Zivilschutz Zentrum the Boathouse also gives another example of a building that conveys the humble nature of its activities while also making a public statement, which according to Community Rowing Inc, is working very successfully with membership doubling since the opening of the new building. Certainly for Marine Rescue NSW this is a statistic worth aspiring to!

While the buildings themselves are set back from the edge of the water, the extension of the wharfs and balconies out towards the river provide a more direct link with the water environment. The Boathouse on land reaches out, somewhat tenuously, towards the river, yet overall the building is still ground with landbased existence, sending out people onto the water rather than being connected itself.

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