This modern passive house blends sustainability and family charm
When tasked with constructing a home for a young family on an odd lot on West 3rd in Vancouver's trendy Kitsilano neighbourhood, dlp Architecture’s Lucio Picciano rose to the challenge, creating a space that is warm, contemporary and family-friendly.
Located on 2794 MacDonald Street, this family home has a Passive House certification given to properties that are energy-efficient, low-maintenance and low-consumption. Like other Passive Homes, it contains several notable features that make it truly sustainable, while retaining a sleek, modern aesthetic.
On the design front, the first thing you notice from the exterior is the modern, bold contradiction of black and white.
“We worked with a simple form; a two-storey rectangle,” says Picciano, “we wanted to add some interesting colours, but also keep it future-proof, something that will age well no matter which trends come and go.” The ‘bumps’ made with scorched wood are a common feature, utilized in the sliding screens and other exterior facades.
The home is located on a corner with long exposure, facing west. Since Passive House properties are also required to be airtight and insulated, the space’s location meant that it was prone to overheating throughout the year.
With this in mind, Picciano and his team added huge sliding exterior solar shades—featured prominently on the home’s west side—to close down the western windows in the afternoon and block UV from the sun from hitting the glass.
They also added an outdoor unit that pulls heat from outside air and transfers it indoors through a heat pump, allowing for water heating. This, combined with the exterior solar panels, keeps utility costs low and truly efficient in every way.
Stepping inside, you are greeted with an airy, contemporary and welcoming space that still manages to jump out at you with how stylish it looks. The best part? The home utilizes local materials, including locally-sourced wood from fir trees.
The staircase is a great example of this, made with solid 3.5-inch thick Douglas fir treads. “Wood from local fir trees has more texture, it’s cheaper and it’s readily available,” says Picciano, “You can call a mill or a kiln with a request, and they’ll give you what you need! We’re lucky on the West Coast to have access to great materials.”
Picciano notes that whether you enter the home from the front or the rear, you still get a fantastic first glimpse. Since it is a family home (with three children!), the open concept layout doesn’t feel formal or “cold.” It’s every bit as flush with character on a regular day, with the long white wall behind the couch in the living room acting as a canvas for the kids’ artwork.
“If you visit the home now, you’ll see shelves there for the kids to display their Polaroids and drawings,” says Picciano. Even when there’s no art, the shelving still looks great and peppers the space with character and potential. “I think the home is a truly comfortable space to spend all day with the whole family."