The Phoenix Project (NetZero Ready) – Fraser Ave (Westboro)


Westboro (Ottawa, Ontario)

Completion date

Project Completed 2018

The Phoenix Project at 446 Fraser Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario

Project Type Custom House
Client Private
Neighbourhood Westboro
Concept Contemporary Sustainable Design (Passive House Concepts & Net Zero Ready) Including Nanny Suite (Age in Place)
Contractor RND Construction – A Leader in Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly Homes

The Phoenix Project – GOHBA Innovation Award Green Custom Home of the Year 2018

This award-winning project is a single-family home designed using Passive House concepts to achieve a Net Zero Ready home named The Phoenix Project to record the fact that fire rendered the previous house condemned. It is the perfect setting to demonstrate how houses should be built with careful consideration for the user, neighbourhood and environment.

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Situated mid-block in a quaint Ottawa neighbourhood (Westboro), this project location is prime for sustainable living. With its proximity to main street shops, parkway bike paths, and Ottawa’s transitway, it offers an opportunity to live without a vehicle or with little reliance on one. It is perfect for the client’s family with a walking lifestyle. The property has an east-west orientation and faces east, which is crucial for both Passive Solar and Passive Ventilation concepts. The site zoning easily supports the growth and flexibility required to change as the family grows. However, it is important for ARCA-VERDE to do so with as small a footprint (house size) as possible.


The client challenged ARCA-VERDE to arrange the house to permit natural light in every regularly occupied room or area. In addition to natural light, the client also requested maximal natural ventilation. The east-to-west orientation and house form allow light penetration and foster natural airflow. As a result, the form is an elegant and unimposing expression.

We believe the result is a new architectural language celebrating the existing urban fabric, our environmental responsibility and the family’s needs—three opportunities to produce something of merit.


The expansive interior views within the Phoenix Project are achieved by an open concept plan, allowing maximum penetration of natural light and offering few obstacles for natural ventilation. However, the open concept plan offers areas of repose and isolation. In either a spa-inspired washroom, private master bedroom or studio space at the front of the house on the second floor, each is intended to be a place to seek when independence or recharge is needed.

Operational Equipment

It is an ARCA-VERDE desire that all operational equipment within a house has little to no visual presence. This can be difficult with sustainable ideals, but in The Phoenix Project, it is achieved by allowing architecture to be the first response. For example, rather than relying on equipment to heat, cool and ventilate, the building shape, interior configuration and placement of windows serve as the primary methods. Low-operable windows permit fresh air and high-operable windows permit ventilation. Careful placement of interior partitions and operable transoms eliminate obstacles. The east-west orientation with large windows facing south allows the winter sun to heat the interior, eliminating almost all need for supplemental mechanical heat. This also allows adequate natural light in all rooms. The only interior room without a window uses a solar tube mounted to the roof to deliver natural light.

Age in Place and Functional Description

To allow for family growth and change, The Phoenix House is prepared to receive simple, barrier-free upgrades, allowing full accessibility to an aging residence. For example, the house has planned for an elevator with space for a shaft and thickening of the basement slab. The basement space is ready for a granny suite or secondary dwelling unit. A ramp that has been planned will be built to the front door.

While entertaining, the dining room is large enough to host 8-10 people in comfort. The kitchen is modest in size but has a large amount of storage and is designed to be the hub of the house. A feature of the kitchen is a washroom, pantry and recycle center hidden behind kitchen cabinets. The living room is a formal area with conversational seating or a nice place to read the paper while morning light bathes the room.

The functional layout intends to be void of formal circulation. Overlapping functions foster a creative and friendly environment without bolstering the house size. Three fireplaces are located throughout to offer ambiance and an on-demand heat source.

ARCA-VERDE has considered every detail of the Phoenix Project. The placement of functions and arrangement of space creates an economy of the area. Designing with the environment in mind makes a home with a low impact on the earth, a bright interior, and reconnects occupants with the exterior environment. In the most basic of explanations, ARCA-VERDE turned each of the Phoenix Project’s challenges into an opportunity to develop something of merit.

Materials and Design Features

  • Local exterior and interior materials
  • Low VOC paints and adhesives.
  • Forest Stewardship Certified wood
  • Triple-pane high-performance windows
  • Super-insulated roof, walls and floor
  • Provisions for future photovoltaic panels on mono-sloped roof sections
  • Cistern water collection off mono-sloped roofs
  • Reuse of salvaged materials from the existing burnt structure (brick, glass and armour stone).
  • Xeriscape landscaping requires no additional irrigation beyond natural rainfall.