The Fold Passive Duplex (Passive House Plus)

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Building Type: Single Family Residential
Project Phase: Under Construction
Certification Type: Plus
Year of Construction: 2021
Gross Floor Area (m2): 248.6
PHPP Verification: Download

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Project Description

Passive House research, education, design, and construction constitute the world’s best approach to reducing building operating energy demand, a major source of climate heating emissions. Consistent with Passive House goals of efficiency and simplicity, we should not be wasteful. Just as Passive House avoids wasting energy, our buildings should not waste space. The growing “small house” movements acknowledge that design wasting space is not sustainable design.

The Fold Passive Duplex Plus marries Passive House thermal efficiency with spatial efficiency. It is more than a duplex. By ingenious use of locking interior doors, compact kitchens, and centrally-located shared laundry, this building can provide shelter to as many as four separate households, within the scale of single family home. The magic is in the basement where locking doors can create two separate “lock-off” one-bedroom or studio suites. Each with large windows, its own kitchen and full bathroom, exterior door, and outdoor space. The beauty of the lock-off suite is that the separation is not permanent. Open the lockable interior door and the basements suites can be joined to the larger home above for expanding and contracting households.

Ageing-in-place was an important part of the design brief, and a challenge within zoning bylaws that require raised front porches. The entry design has incorporated a design and rough-ins for a future outdoor lift to the entry porch, should one be required. For the first floor unit, once inside all living spaces are on that first floor for ease of accessibility, including the primary bedroom, bath, kitchen, dining and living room. The upper unit has a single straight run stair designed for an interior chair lift, which goes from the entry to the upper floor. Again, once on that upper level, the primary bedroom, study, bathroom, kitchen, and all living spaces are on one level. The interconnected suites on the lower level can provide a rental income in retirement, or can provide a live-in suite for a caretaker. For a younger growing family, instead of needing to move to a larger home, or even a new neighbourhood, when children arrive, the family can easily annex the basement suite to their main floor or top floor home. And later, perhaps as their children grow up and move out, the family needs less space and can rent the lock-out suite to a tenant, or perhaps to elderly parents, or even move to the basement suite as they need less space or are in need of additional rental income by renting out the primary space.

This chronological flexibility enables maximum density. The owners can adjust the number of households without expensive construction or demolition of walls.

It is also more than a classic Passive House, with on-site generation via solar array only over half of the upper roof, the project is on-track for Passive House Plus certification. With multiple suites in a compact home, it was challenging to hit the PER requirements for PH Plus, but this was accomplished by increasing the performance of the building systems. Thirty-three solar panels on the roof provide sufficient on-site generation of renewable energy to offset the energy consumed by the households.

The name “The Fold Passive Duplex Plus” has several layers to it, as does the duplex. The idiom “into the fold” means to welcome into a group like-minded people with shared values. In this instance, it brings together a brother and sister, together with their shared and extended families. This duplex plus welcomes up to four families “into the fold”, and provides shared communal outdoor living spaces for a larger gatherings, while providing each with their own dedicated spaces as well.

A folding roof line features prominently in the architecture, and embodies the programmatic theme. As well, the duplex has an interlocking layout where the suites bend and fold around each other to maximize efficiency and provide the best possible quality of space for each suite, through daylighting and evocative volumes on an urban lot with strict zoning regulations. Each space is open to the front and back of the house to improve the quality of occupant health by integrating natural daylight and cross ventilation. Each suite also has its own outdoor space so that each sibling has their own yard. Additionally, there is a communal space beside the garage dedicated for family gatherings.

The Fold Duplex Plus is a new housing typology that elegantly adjusts to the occupants’ needs for space and flexibility, without waste. The unique design is tailored to the taste and lifestyle of each individual client, who despite their different lifestyles and personal aesthetics, share a common commitment to sustainability and innovation. The result is a perfect balance that echoes the harmony between siblings.