Passive House Prototype – Art + Science

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Building Type: Single Family Residential
Project Phase: In Design
Certification Type: None
Year of Construction: 2021
Gross Floor Area (m2): 110.7
PHPP Verification: Download

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Project Description

Passive House Prototype – Art + Science is a perfect example of how good design is a mixture of creativity and science. It blends Passive House design, envelope science, and high-performance detailing within a dramatic form intended to inspire a creative mind.
The modern home has a minimalist aesthetic with a simple conceptual form: two stacked boxes that are staggered, creating covered areas and open decks without fussy appendages. The material palette draws from West Coast Modernism with warm woods accented by dark tones.

A driving factor of the design, was to create a sense of community for those living on the property as well as to reach out to the surrounding neighbourhood. The site includes a large front yard, intentionally open to the sidewalk, with hardscaping meant to invite neighbours to gather and connect. A floating landscape platform at bench height forms part of the procession from the sidewalk to the front door, while providing bench height seating for impromptu gatherings. In addition, the house includes a large and shared creative space, lovingly dubbed the “gym/jam” studio. It is accessible from the backyard and serves as an amenity to those who live in the primary house, secondary suite, as well as the laneway house. The “gym/jam” studio, is an acoustically insulated rehearsal space and provides a creative outlet and cultural hub on the property. It is a flexible space that can be used as a gym, for performances and small gatherings, for recording, and as an art and photography studio with high ceilings. Alternately, it can easily be converted into an extension of the secondary suite.

The Art + Science Passive House Prototype design is highly motivated by a desire to minimize the impact of this home on the planet, not only by targeting the aggressive Passive House standard, but also a commitment to limiting embodied carbon. As a project team, we know that climate change is real and is happening. It is causing irreversible damage to the planet, and is something that needs to be addressed in new construction. Rising global temperatures need to be taken into consideration in design that is happening now. Passive House is part of a critical response to climate change, not only due to the reduced energy consumption, but also durability, the longevity of the build, providing energy independence, thermal resilience in the event of power outages or natural disasters, occupant comfort, the intuitive design and building science, and of course the proven track record. It is simply a better way to design and build. If we go beyond energy consumption, and look at life-cycle carbon in a project, we need to look towards embodied carbon as well. The home is vinyl-free, using alternates such as fiberglass windows, engineered hardwood flooring, rapidly renewable cork flooring, as well as recycled rubber flooring, and more sustainable membranes. The Living Building Challenge’s Red List identifies vinyl (PVC) as toxic, hard to recycle, and it does not decompose.
Although designed for a specific property and orientation, we are also offering it as a prototype for interested future clients as well. It can be customized and tweaked to suit other properties of similar proportion and orientation with a south facing rear elevation.