Ecohouse Design Project

2010 Home Sweet Home Competition Entry

University Of Waterloo
Redefining family living for an environmentally sensitive site
Team Members: Xiaowen Xu, Dennis Tang

The Barnhouse was a proposal for a competition requesting for an eco-friendly family home for seven in the town of Kapuskasing, Ontario. The result was an open-concept family home with a fully glazed south wall, with small portholes lining the north façade. The design of the home accommodates the family of seven, from birth, to childhood, upwards to adolescence for the five children.

We wanted to utilise the iconic profile of a house to create the design of the Barnhouse. Long rustic barns were also an inspiration for the proposal. The two, combined with our desire to create an environmentally sensitive architecture, shifted the form to create an asymmetrical slope on the pitch of the profile.

The home took advantage of its southern exposure as a passive strategy. The fully glazed surface maximises solar heat gain, with its slate floor tiles absorbing and storing said warmth. Over the course of the day, the heat emanates upward through to the mezzanine above and the enclosed master suite. Shading devices are pinned onto the uppermost panes of the south wall, to protect the interior from the glaring rays during the winter months. The east and west walls are free of openings, minimising heat loss from the prevailing winds. Extending the west wall also provides heat protection and creates a shading area for the dock extending into the lake.

The Barnhouse uses a ‘dollhouse’ organisation strategy; the exterior revealed the interiority of every space in the home. Every space of the house receives its own portion of façade.

The home is designed to create and inclusive environment between parents and children. The openness of the design encourages interaction and social growth between siblings, whilst creating a sense of communal living and sharing.

Aside from passive strategies, Barnhouse employs a number of mechanical systems to reduce its utilisation of resources from its surroundings. On the extended south slope of the roof, it photovoltaic panels line its surface to generate electricity for the home. Placed aside a body of water, a thermal heat exchange between the house and the lake moderates the interior temperature of the house whilst increasing its indoor humidity.

Barnhouse was a proposal to create a beautiful, enjoyable, and efficient ecohouse for a large growing family.

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© Dennis Tang 2017