Red and White Pines Passive House – Clarence-Rockland, ON



Completion date


The Red and White Pines Passive House

Project Type Custom House
Client Private
Neighbourhood Clarence-Rockland, ON
Concept Contemporary Sustainable Design (Passive House & Net Zero)
Contractor The Client

The clients of Red and White Pines requested a home integrated into the surrounding forest. The clients intend to manage the mature Red and White forest as a retirement plan, and the house is intended to be the central point of this activity, designed using Passive House standards to reduce the house’s energy requirements.

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It is situated within a clearing of mature red and white pine trees. The house is located to use solar exposure efficiently and allow the coniferous trees to provide winter protection.


It is essential for ARCA-VERDE to arrange the house so that it does not appear large. The forms and sloping rooflines serve to reduce the presence of the structure. The result is an expression that is elegant and unimposing.

The house is composed of 2 volumes; one, presented at the front, is a result of the Passive House envelope; the second garage volume contains storage for the house and machinery for forest management.

The open concept plan creates the intended expansive interior views, allowing maximum natural light penetration and offering few obstacles to natural ventilation. However, the planning presents areas of repose and isolation. In either the spa-inspired washrooms, private master bedrooms (2), or the den space on the 2nd level, each room aims to be a place to seek independence or recharge when needed.


It is an ARCA-VERDE desire that all technology within a house has little to no presence. It can be difficult with sustainable ideals, but allowing architecture to be the first response is achievable. Rather than relying on technology or equipment to heat, cool, and ventilate the building shape, interior configuration and window placement are all required. The house shape promotes natural ventilation with low windows that allow air to enter the house and rise to the higher windows on the opposite side of prevailing winds. The east-west long axis with large south-facing windows allows the winter sun to heat the interior, almost eliminating the need for supplemental mechanical heat. This allows adequate natural light in all rooms. Carefully places windows connecting the interior to the exterior, allowing the surrounding tall pines to be part of the house interior.

Functional Description

The development of three zones within the floor plan serves as the private, semi-private, and public separations: the first, the first floor (semi-public section) with the dining, living, and kitchen rooms; the second zone, the 2nd and loft storey (private); the third, is the outdoor zone (public).

The first is the formal zone while entertaining; the dining room is large enough to comfortably host 6-8 people. The kitchen, designed to be the hub of the house, is modest in size but has a large amount of storage with the pantry area behind. The living room is a formal area with conversational seating. The second level has two generous-sized bedrooms with a walk-in closet and ensuite. One ensuite has shared access with the den (possibly the third bedroom).

The functional layout intends to be void of formal circulation. Overlapping functions foster a creative and friendly environment without bolstering the house size. One wood-burning fireplace is at the center of floor plates to maximize efficiency.

ARCA-VERDE has considered every detail in the Red and White Pines Custom Home. The placement of functions and arrangement of space creates an economy of space. Designing with the environment in mind makes a home with a low impact on the earth and a bright interior that connects the occupants with the exterior environment.

Material and Design Features

  • Forest Stewardship Certified wood
  • Triple pane, high performing, European, passive house certified windows
  • Super-insulated roof, walls, and floor
  • Photo-voltaic panels on sloped roof sections
  • Cistern water collection off sloped roofs
  • An estimated return on carbon investment of 12-14 years