|Project Type||Custom House|
|Concept||Contemporary Sustainable Design (Passive House & Net Zero)|
The client hired ARCA-VERDE to develop a healthy residence for an environmentally aware family. The husband is an avid gardener and stressed the importance of increasing the current house area to provide for their two young boys, without increasing the footprint on the site, both physically and environmentally. In addition, the client felt responsible for their neighbours to ensure the project is in keeping with the neighbourhood context (project height and size).
Situated mid-block in one of Ottawa’s mature neighbourhoods (Fisher Heights) it will prove the above questions are not impossible to answer. This little known pocket beside the experimental farm is well situated with vehicular access to downtown, close to public transit and ample green space. The property offers a north-south orientation and west-facing frontage. To make use of passive design principals the concentration of the placement of the living space is along the north property line. This location and inclusion of windows on the south facade of the higher volume invite winter sun, natural light, and infiltration of summer prevailing winds. However, the large overhang is important to block out the summer sun. The site zoning easily supports the project which ARCA-VERDE and the client intend to do so with as small a footprint (house size) as possible.
It is important for ARCA-VERDE to arrange the house so that it will not appear large. The form and sloping roofline serve to reduce the presence of the structure on the street. The service space in the low volume resembles the neighbouring bungalow structures. The result is an expression that is elegant and unimposing.
The house is composed of two main volumes linked together. The design extension balances toward the front and back property lines to minimize the impact on the backyard gardens. Moving closer to the front property line is appropriate in this instance as both flanking neighbours are closer to the street. What results is a rational functional layout. The separation of service space and formal entry occurs in the low volume along the street. In addition, the garage is located away from the formal entry placing the vehicle in the service area of the house. The Hilliard Passive House is an important project for ARCA-VERDE as it clearly expresses our approach to custom houses. That is a residence developed with as little an environmental footprint as possible, expressing the architectural possibilities, and, most importantly, developed from a client-centred approach.
The Hilliard Passive House achieves the intended expansive interior views through an open concept plan, allowing maximum penetration of natural light and offering few obstacles for natural ventilation.
It is an ARCA-VERDE desire that all technology within a house has little to no presence. This can be difficult with sustainable ideals but achieved by allowing the architecture to be the first response. Rather than relying on technology or equipment to heat, cool and ventilate the building shape, interior configuration and placement of windows are all that is needed. The Hilliard Passive House shape promotes natural ventilation with low windows that allow air to enter the house and rise up to the higher windows on the opposite side. It utilizes wind to create negative pressure in the house effectively ventilating passively. The created east-west orientation of the large volume allows winter sun to heat the interior almost eliminating any need for supplemental mechanical heat. Also inherent with this is adequate natural light in all rooms, which provides a bigger interior feel.
Age in Place and Functional Description
The floor plan of the Hilliard Passive House is developed with three zones. These zones serve as the private, semi-private and public separations. The first being the front formal section with the office, dining, living and kitchen rooms. The second zone is the second storey of the large volume. The third zone is the ancillary zone or service zone beside the garage. The first zone contains a dining room large enough to host 8-10 people with comfort. Access to the office is off the front entry and intended to allow the client to work from home with clients arriving in the day. The kitchen placed at the centre of the house is designed to be the heart of the home. The husband and wife love to cook and desire a layout that offers sightlines to each room from the kitchen. The second floor also overlooks the kitchen area reinforcing this desire. A feature of the kitchen, and quickly becoming an ARCA-VERDE signature, is a washroom, pantry and recycle centre hidden behind kitchen cabinets. The den flanking the dining area is a formal area with conversational seating or a nice place to read the morning paper (client daily activity).
The intention of the functional layout is to be void of formal circulation. Overlapping functions foster a creative and friendly environment without bolstering the house size.
ARCA-VERDE has considered every detail in The Hilliard Passive House. The placement of functions and arrangement of space creates an economy of space. Designing with the environment in mind creates a home with a low environmental impact, a bright interior, and reconnects occupants with the exterior environment. It will connect an inhabitant with their living consciousness. In the most basic of explanations, ARCA-VERDE turned each of the challenges of the project into an opportunity to develop something of merit.
Material and Design Features