The Hintonburg Passive House


Ottawa's Hintonburg Neighbourhood

Completion date

To be determined.

The Hintonburg Passive House

Project Type Custom House
Client Private
Neighbourhood Hintonburg, Ottawa
Concept Contemporary Sustainable Design (Passive House & Net Zero)
Contractor To be determined

The clients of the Hintonburg Passive House requested a home integrated into the surrounding neighbourhood that is tuned to the environment, and their family needs and provides a place for the husband and wife to age in place. ARCA-VERDE designed the house using the Passive House standard to reduce the house’s energy requirements and developed innovative methods to respond to a family with four (4) daughters, a parent that works from home, and a granny suite in the lower/walk-out level.

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The Hintonburg Passive House is situated within a mature urban neighbourhood of Ottawa, within walking distance of many amenities.  The house is on a lot, including a rear lane that provides great west solar exposure.


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

The house is composed of 3 volumes; the first, the main volume is a result of the Passive House envelope; the second roof slope volume contains the loft space/children’s playroom and faces the optimum solar angle for photo-voltaic panels; the third volume, the entrance vestibule is designed to present transparency to the street, proving a friendly facade, without the negative aspects associated with north-facing energy loss windows.

The open concept plan offers flexibility and space to a large family.  It creates expansive interior views, which allows maximum penetration of natural light and provides few obstacles for natural ventilation. However, the planning presents areas of repose and isolation. In either the loft or private bedrooms, each space 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. The compact floor plate allows adequate natural light in all rooms. Carefully placed windows connect the interior to the exterior but also provide privacy, which the client desires.

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 host 8 to 12 people comfortably. The kitchen, designed to be the hub of the house, is large to permit cooking activity for a family of 6.  The design also provides much storage and includes a pantry room. The living room is a formal area with conversational seating.  The office area, with sliding doors, can be isolated from the main level should privacy be needed while working from home.

The second level was designed with flexibility in mind.  The result is a three-bedroom house, but the children’s, second and third bedrooms, are large enough to separate into four (4) smaller bedrooms.  The children are young and familiar with sharing a bedroom, but knowing that this is likely to change, ARCA-VERDE developed something unique, using an obstacle as an opportunity. The custom-designed movable closet units can be located to provide visual and physical privacy. The master bedroom is designed to be a sanctuary for the parents. It includes ample closet space, a large walk-in shower, and a toilet room.  The shared second-floor washroom is designed so the three major washroom fixtures (sink, toilet, and bathtub/shower) include sliding doors for privacy while allowing access to the other fixtures, which is vital for a family of 6.

ARCA-VERDE has considered every detail in the Hintonburg Passive House, holding the clients and their unique family unit as the heart of the project. The result is a house configured to be a seven (7) bedroom and five (5) bathroom house.  Designing with the environment in mind creates a home with a low impact on the earth, a bright interior, and reconnects occupants with the exterior environment.

Material and Design Features

  • Locally sourced stone wall – to break up north facing front facade
  • Forest Stewardship Certified wood
  • Triple pane, high performing, European, passive house certified windows
  • Super-insulated roof, walls, and floor
  • Dramatic mono-sloped roof section rotated to face optimum solar exposure.
  • Photo-voltaic panels on sloped roof sections rotated toward optimum solar exposure.
  • Cistern water collection off sloped roofs
  • An estimated return on carbon investment of 12-14 years