People in Glass Houseboats: A Wave of the Future?

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Joanna Borek-ClementWhen San Francisco designer Joanna Borek-Clement thinks about futuristic homes, she's not thinking about moon pods or docking stations in space, but about the local marina. Borek-Clement has come up with a new kind of houseboat design named "Tafoni" inspired by nature and which thinks outside the houseboat box – literally.Take for instance, the houseboat district on Richardson Bay in nearby Sausalito, which harbors more than 400 floating homes. Many of the houseboats date from the 1970s and often resemble boxes on concrete barges: four walled-in living space with siding and shingles atop floating bases.

Borek-Clement, 30, envisions something else. Her Tafoni looks more like something from a popular futuristic cartoon. Borek-Clement's houseboat is characterized by organic-looking round shapes and large windows that absolutely rejects classic, four corner construction. The Polish-born designer says her design was inspired by nature. In fact, a 'tafoni' is cave-like formation found often in sandstone.

Joanna Borek-Clement"I've always been fascinated with rock formations," she said in an interview with theSan Francisco Chronicle. "I get really absorbed by the polished stones you find along the beach or a river." That's evident with Tafoni's ellipsoidal wooden trusses and curved windows. Inside, Borek-Clement's "floating pavilion" gives a nod to traditional Japanese design aesthetics, with a simple minimalism with a muted color palette.

There's a living room, kitchen and bed/ bath area, but with few storage possibilities shown, the Tafoni might not be realistic. Ken Watsey of Kappas Marina, one of the bay's houseboat communities says most of their floating homes are berthed 6-10 feet away from each other. "If you get something full of windows and glass, it's not the greatest thing in the world to have a neighbor six feet away," he says. Instead, he suggests Tafoni would be better on a lake or secluded spot.

But Borek-Clement acknowledges as much in stating the Tafoni is really a 'creative exercise,' where as a designer, she is stretching her own limits.
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