ONE 10 was approached to design a modern conference space for a local organization looking to create a unique setting for meetings and gatherings in Indianapolis, on the near West side adjacent to the White River. Because of the organization’s involvement with and connection to nature, it was proposed that the conference space be built on a pontoon boat frame. This non-traditional foundation would ensure that the meeting space could become a flexible and portable hub, capable of traveling to different areas and bodies of water in the region.
Constrained to automotive transport restrictions, the floating space’s narrow parameters lend itself to a pronounced linear form. Embracing and accentuating the statement of this form, the lightweight aluminum body’s exterior was designed to be clad with horizontal siding and the interior with finished plywood; both materials further embrace the ROWboat’s connection to nature. A shroud of glass veils the hull as an oculus for light and observation opportunities from within the space, while simultaneously creating a simple vocabulary of solid and transparent material expression.
Following the structural frame’s narrow platform, the program areas within the form are organized linearly. Patrons enter at the front (bow) deck and arrive in the flex meeting space or enter at the rear (aft) deck and pass through the service core to reach the flex meeting space. A compartmentalized service core with a direct connection to power charging at the docking hub provides the power requirements for the portable section of the project. Within the docking hub, a composting toilet and the utility connections for the meeting space anchor the project to a designated port on dry land. Also included in the area of the docking hub is a gathering deck for larger groups and social gatherings too large for the narrow pontoon platform to house by itself. The pontoon and the docking hub create a combination of gathering areas linked by their users.
Creating a collection of social spaces for stationary and portable water-faring events was an interesting challenge presented to ONE 10 STUDIO. We enjoyed the design exercise this type of project continuously reintroduced to our studio. The ROWboat reflects the results of a client/architect relationship that understands the necessity of design and collaboration while maintaining realistic expectations of non-traditional project wants and needs.