The House on the Hill (Alcove Passive House)


Alcove, QC

Completion date

Summer of 2024

The House on the Hill (Alcove Passive House)

Project Type Custom House
Client Private
Neighbourhood Alcove, QC
Concept Contemporary Sustainable Design (Passive House & Net Zero)
Contractor TBD

The clients of the House on the Hill requested a home integrated into the surrounding site, a well-forested hill in Alcove, Quebec.  The clients requested an eco-friendly, fossil fuel-free, durable house that can provide for their growing family.  The house is situated to enjoy the beautiful view of the Gatineau River to the south. We designed the House on the Hill using the Passive House design standards to reduce the energy requirements.

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The site, located north of Wakefield, is approximately 13.25 hectares  (32 acres).  The site is well-treed with a combination of deciduous trees and conifers trees.  The site is a large hill with a slope which drops towards the south, ideal for an approach intended to use the southern exposure for heating.  The house is located at the top of the hill, near the southeast corner,  it is the ideal location to enjoy the beautiful view towards the Gatineau River.


The materials, vertical white siding and natural wood are chosen for the House on the Hill to honour the surrounding trees.  Also, durability and a low carbon footprint are essential.  The main form is a modest house with a gable roof shape. The south slope of the roof is intended to house solar panels (PV) and will allow the house to achieve a Net-Zero Energy performance.  The 3-season room, front porch and back balcony help to soften the main form.  The result is an expression that is elegant and unimposing.

The house is modest in size and includes, on the second floor, two bedrooms, a reading area, and an office.  The main floor consists of a bedroom, kitchen, dining room, living room, pantry, laundry and mechanical room.  Each floor includes a full bathroom, and the Primary Bedroom includes an ensuite and walk-in closet.  The dining room has an open-to-above section that connects the second floor to the main floor.  This will help with both natural light penetration and natural ventilation.


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. 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 (except the mechanical space, the pantry and the walk-in closet). Carefully places windows connecting the interior to the exterior, allowing the surrounding tall pines to be part of the house interior. Solar shades will be installed on the exterior of the house for June, July, August and September to help reduce the cooling energy loads.  The installation of those shades has been coordinated with the decks and landscaping.

Functional Description

The functional layout is intended to be open and flexible.  Overlapping functions foster a creative and friendly environment without bolstering the house size. One wood-burning fireplace is at the center of the 3-season floor plate to maximize efficiency and allow a connection with the interior of the main house through the kitchen glass door that separates the Passive Envelope from the 3-season room.

ARCA-VERDE has considered every detail in the House on the Hill (Alcove Passive House). 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 reconnects occupants with the exterior environment.

Material and Design Features

  • Forest Stewardship Certified wood
  • Triple pane, high-performing, Passive House-certified windows
  • Super-insulated roof, walls, and floor
  • Provisions for photo-voltaic panels on sloped roof sections