The goal of the design was to create a highly efficient house that engaged a growing family and nurtured interaction. The idea was to create a house that would be both quiet and calm, but also great for hosting friends and family for events. This is achieved by creating a layered boundary between the public and private areas of the house; where the first two floors act as magnets for community and interaction and the top two levels act as calmer quieter areas. The large kitchen is a great example of this, where the space becomes more than a utilitarian space and instead can become a great hosting space; with great views towards the neighborhood and ample seating, the kitchen can be an ideal space for family breakfast, homework sessions before dinner, or wine with friends. At the other extreme, the office sits atop the house, secluded and quiet. Its large windows open to views of the neighborhood and the river; a fantastic place to meditate and see the sunrise.
The design also tried to create a deep connection with the outdoors. Not only through the use of windows, but also creating outdoor spaces that could expand the living footprint of the house when the weather is nice. A courtyard off the kitchen provides a great space for small meals or morning coffee; the large deck can become an extension of the living room or an outdoor dining area; and the office terrace can become a great space for observing nature (facing the river) and the neighborhood.
While the idea was to be able to expand effortlessly when the weather is good, the reality of winter also was taken into consideration. The house is designed to be very efficient, minimizing the use of expensive heating. The design uses highly insulated 10” SIP wall, as well as using SIP panels for the roof structure. Additionally, the basement walls and floor slab are also insulated to severely cut down on any heat loss. By cutting down on the loss of heat, the design allows for passive methods of heating to take over the majority of the heating. The large windows, especially those facing south, allow for the house to warm naturally; additionally, a Tulikivi soapstone fireplace in the Great Room can be used as a great source for heat over long periods of time; finally in the coldest days, radiant heating under the floor provides a great source of heat during the coldest days. Through these systems, the same house that opens up and expands beyond its walls during the summer can easily close up and become warm and cozy during the worst winter days.