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+HOUSE

By: superk├╝l

 

+HOUSE south elevation - view from across the pond. Photo credit: Shai Gil Photography

Project Name:
+HOUSE

Project Owners:
Withheld at owner’s request

Project Location:
Mulmur, Ontario

Architects:
superkül

Project Completion Date:
September 2011

Project Site:
Previously developed land

Project Type:
Single-family residential

Project Type Context/Setting:
Rural

Other Building Description:
New construction

Lot Size:
45,634 m2 / 11.3 ac.

Building Gross and Footprint Floor Area:
200 m2 / 2,150 sq. ft.

Building Occupancy:
2 people - partial occupancy (6 months/year)

Designed for a client with environmental sensitivities, +HOUSE is a manifestation of a sustainable and healthy approach to building that does not sacrifice design.

Sited facing the bank of a stream-fed pond, this four-season house is nestled into a natural slope. Extensive 14-ft high glazing offers expansive views of the landscape and access to a full-length deck. Bedrooms are located on opposite ends of the rectangular plan, and the open living spaces are situated in the heart of the house.

+ HOUSE’s clean profile and eminently functional spaces belie a wealth of complex, green and environmental technology beneath. Catering to the client’s environmental sensitivities, the house is built of inert cementitious block that inhibit the growth of fungi and molds and the walls are finished with a natural clay plaster that requires no paint finish. A soy-based sealer was used for the concrete floors and counters, and untreated silk and hemp fabric was used for the curtains.

The client was equally interested in environmentally responsible design. Achieving a healthy house for both client and environment meant extensive research into a wide range of products and locally produced materials suited to the climate. A green roof, heat-mirror triple glazing, solar shading, passive ventilation and daylighting, and a geothermal system are just some of the features of this LEED Gold-targeted project.

In response to a unique set of client needs, the design set out to exceed the norm – and achieved an exemplary synthesis of sustainable and healthy design and aesthetics.

SUSTAINABLE METRICS:

Annual energy consumption in ekWh (equivalent kilowatt hours):
25,378 ekWh

Energy density in ekWh/m2:
126.89 ekWh/m2

Building full time equivalent population:
2 people

 

 

 

A green roof, heat-mirror triple glazing, solar shading, passive ventilation and daylighting and a geothermal system are just some of the sustainable features of this LEED Gold-targeted project. Photo credit: Shai Gil Photography

Beyond materials, specific issues targeted included mimizing impact on the landscape, providing a sustainable and renewable energy source, and mimizing energy loss through a strategic approach to the design. Discovering, for example, that recycled materials aren’t always suitable for such specific health parameters, created an unexpected divide between sustainable and healthy design choices. Despite this obvious obstacle, numerous features of this LEED Gold targeted project such as a green roof, FSC certified lumber throughout, heat-mirror triple glazing, a large south overhang minimizing solar gain in the summer, operable skylights and windows on all four elevations offering passive ventilation and natural day lighting across 100% of the occupied floor area, and the pond-loop geothermal system were all part of the sustainable design strategy.

 

Site diagram demonstrates a strategic approach to siting and design.

 

 

Sited facing the bank of a stream-fed pond, this four-season house is nestled into a natural slope. Photo credit: Shai Gil Photography

The new house was built on the original footprint of the previously demolished structure, and the existing concrete retaining wall was retained in order to minimize disruption to local site conditions. Nearly a dozen mature trees were transplanted to a local nursery to protect them during construction and replanted on the site once the house was complete. An Enviro-lok green retaining wall system (a collection of engineered bags of soil and seeds that eventually grow into a plant wall) was used to support the large rear slope instead of introducing foreign materials such as concrete or gabion baskets. Low-maintenance local grasses and plantings were used throughout the landscaping in order to reduce watering, and to better integrate with the local ecosystem.

Taking advantage of the local conditions, a pond-loop geothermal system was used to provide the cooling and heating source, further reducing the environmental impact of the project. Water from the pond is used for the small amount of irrigation required on the site, putting less strain on the well and in-turn, the permeable gravel driveway controls water run-off.

 

Installation of the pond-loop geothermal system

 

 

 

Siting, orientation and sustainable features contribute to passive ventilation, heating and cooling of the house. Photo credit: Shai Gil Photography

The house is sited in a valley facing the banks of a stream-fed pond, taking full advantage of the area’s best natural features. The site is characterized by its unique micro-climate, with slightly-higher than average temperatures and humidity contributing to the abundant vegetation in the area. The long form of the house is nestled into the slope that rises to the north; the green roof angles back towards the hill and opens up to the south, extending the slope into the fabric of the house, and providing natural insulation along the top and rear of the building.

Extensive 14-foot high south-facing, heat-mirror triple glazing offers expansive views of the pond and the rolling landscape beyond; lift-and-slide doors provide access to a full-length deck, integrating all living spaces with the outdoors during warm months while the the large south overhang minimizes solar gain.

Skylights along with windows on all four elevations provide passive ventilation and natural day lighting across 100% of the occupied floor area.

Rain-water is harvested and used for irrigation of the garden and green roof, while the permeable gravel driveway controls water run-off. An independent well located on the property provides potable water for the daily use of the residents.

Air circulation, passive heating and cooling systems, green roof and daylighting are all elements of the sustainable design.

 

 

Catering to the client’s environmental sensitivities, the walls are finished with a natural clay plaster that requires no paint finish. A soy-based sealer was used for the concrete floors and counters, and untreated silk and hemp fabric was used for the curtains. Photo credit: Shai Gil Photography

+ HOUSE’s clean profile, refined details and eminently functional spaces belie a wealth of complex, sustainable and indoor environment technology beneath. Catering to the client’s profound environmental sensitivities, each building material, system and finish was vetted by the architect and then tested by the client to ensure that there would be no adverse physical reaction. Over 40 substrates for the millwork were reviewed by the architect and tested by the client to find one that produced no adverse reaction.

Installation of Durisol Block - an inert concrete based product that produces no VOCs and inhibits the growth of fungi and molds.

 

 

+HOUSE’s clean profile and eminently functional spaces belie a wealth of complex, green and indoor environment technology beneath. Photo credit: Shai Gil Photography

The house is built of an inert concrete based block that produces no VOCs and inhibits the growth of fungi and molds. In keeping with the goal of zero-VOCs, the interior walls are finished with a natural clay plaster, a self-finishing breathable product which requires no paint finish (there is no drywall in the house). A soy-based sealer was used for the concrete floors and counters, PVC-free blackout roller shade fabric was used, untreated silk and hemp fabric was used for the curtains, and hospital-grade HEPA filters in the duct system were used.

A new electrical wiring solution was introduced by the designers – wires in steel coil shields were installed vertically only where power was needed instead of wrapping horizontally around each room – helping eliminate fatigue-inducing electromagnetic fields. Demand switches were installed in the bedrooms, shutting off power at the fuse box when the circuits are not in use, and further cutting down on exposure to EMFs. The interiors were kept intentionally simple in an effort to keep surfaces dust-free.

The builder and trades were critical to the success of the project. Working in concert with the architect and client, the builder ensured that the stringent parameters of the design were met, exploring options when warranted along the way. Trades were vetted for their understanding and ability to meet the project requirements and commitment to observe the more restrictive working conditions of the site.

FSC certified lumber and Durisol block were the primary building materials used in construction.

 

 

Smartly designed, efficient spaces help reduce the footprint of the house. Photo credit: Shai Gil Photography

The project is designed and built to be durable and of enduring value, it’s original square footage reduced in favour of increased construction quality.

Designed with solar and wind orientation in mind, and built of lasting materials, the house will be comfortable and resilient for many years to come.

Photo credit: Shai Gil Photography

 

 

+HOUSE is a LEED-Gold targeted project. Photo credit: Shai Gil Photography

In response to a unique set of client needs, the design set out to exceed the norm – and achieved an exemplary synthesis of sustainable and healthy design and aesthetics.

Together the client, architect and builder set a high-level benchmark, against which the sustainable performance of the design was measured, while the evaluating the quality of the healthy home features was a deceptively simple process based on the client’s direct response to the materials and air quality in the space.

+HOUSE has been recognized with two provincial awards and published in Azure magazine, with future publication in the works.

 

 

Architect team: Meg Graham, Andre D’Elia, Geoffrey Moote

Design Architect:
superkül

General Contractor:
Wilson Project Mangement

Landscape Architect:
superkül

Owner/Developer 1:
Withheld at owner’s request