is to design healthier homes,
which are true to materials,
to simplify lives.
We created this vision to communicate why we do what we do and that design is it is not static. We are continually learning what this means and how to apply it to each project.
Healthier homes are broken down into home efficiency, use of materials, programming, and daylight. Every building starts with its orientation to the site. Ideally, the goal is to have the building facing south-southwest to take advantage of natural light and passive solar heat gain in the winter. Sometimes the property faces north, and this is often due to views. For the case in cottage country, you want to take advantage of the views of the lake. With this in mind, north facing windows are also critical because they provide excellent light with no glare.
Stairwells are often a cumbersome feature in a home, but they are one of the first places to start to bring natural light through the space. Stairs are also a great feature because the span multiple floors and can be used for what is called stack effect to bring natural ventilation into the home. Similar to that of a fireplace chimney, you want to draw cold air through the bottom, and exhaust it out the top.
Building on the theme of health it is essential to have a tight home to maximise the efficiency of the mechanical systems. Exterior rigid foam is a great way to seal the outside of a house because if prevents thermal bridging. With tight homes, ventilation needs to determined ahead of time. This can include a natural system such as operable windows and stack effect, but in the winter you will need an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) or Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) to circulate air.
Materials selection is fundamental to controlling the interior air quality within a home. Materials used in the building and in particular using low or zero volatile organic compounds (VOC) materials are highly recommended. Choosing the right paint or eliminating the need to finish a product is one of the most significant ways to reduce this in the interior of the building. Another way to minimise the effect of off-gassing is to have the item finished off-site with a low VOC paint and then brought to site and installed. While this will not entirely remove the effect of VOC's, it will help.
True to materials is an understanding of the elements used and their impact on the environment. Materials such as wood have an inherent beauty that should be celebrated not hidden. VOC's are a considerable part of our approach to materials; we also consider structure, stylistic decisions, connection/contrast with nature, separation of spaces and so on. The choice of structure is an essential part of the process because choosing a structure that will be exposed for example can simplify the process and reduce the number of steps needed. Sealing a glulam or fir beam with low VOC stain or wax can be a stylistic and a space separation decision used to provide an element of interest within the building.
Plywood is becoming increasingly popular as an interior finish as the cost of the material and installation are reduced since its a larger sheet. High-quality plywood with exposed fasteners is a great way to bring natural elements to the indoor. If that isn't your taste, wood ceilings are a great alternative to add some contrast to a home consisting of mostly drywall. On the floor, you can substitute wood flooring for a tile that looks like wood to bring durability into the house or even a granite that installs like tile to connect the house with the exterior. The choices of interior finishes are endless and discussing the goals of a project with your designer is the best first step. Houzz, Pinterest, Instagram, and the many magazine's areas great ways to find material pallets that interest you.
The third, how do you simplify lives and what lives are going to be simplified? Simplifying lives relates to the homes construction and the use of the home. Is there ways that the construction process can make it easier for the people on site and how does that impact the homeowner during the use of the home? Can efficiencies be built into the design to make it easier for the homeowner to live there such as our firm's commitment to making more homes barrier-free which the limiting of thresholds.
During the construction, we recommend all projects use an open web joist such as Triforce Open Web Joist. These joists make it easier for the trades to run pipe, electrical wire, audio video wire, ducts, and so on because nothing has to be cut. Using these joists, you will save money on labour for the trades and make it less aggravating for them to run wire, therefore simplifying lives.
Simplifying the lives of the occupants starts early on in the schematic design phase. We look at your program or better known as you desired spaces you want to incorporate into your home. Understanding how you use those spaces can build a floor plan that reflects your lifestyle.