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A Sustainably Built Home in Rural Ontario

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For this rural Ontario home, building sustainably was less about high-tech gizmos than learning to truly love the land.

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  The 925-square-foot house Maggie Treanor calls home blends into the landscape somewhat; with a galvanized steel shed roof and siding, it looks like a high-design little brother to the barns on the surrounding farms.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    The 925-square-foot house Maggie Treanor calls home blends into the landscape somewhat; with a galvanized steel shed roof and siding, it looks like a high-design little brother to the barns on the surrounding farms.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

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  Doors and triple-glazed casement windows from Loewen work hard to form a tight thermal envelope.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    Doors and triple-glazed casement windows from Loewen work hard to form a tight thermal envelope.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

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  Maggie Treanor waters plants around her rural home.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    Maggie Treanor waters plants around her rural home.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

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  The long gangplank of a deck runs right out into the fields, a fact that Treanor relishes.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: Derek Shapton
    The long gangplank of a deck runs right out into the fields, a fact that Treanor relishes.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: Derek Shapton

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  A covered porch on the south side provides comfortably shaded outdoor space, and its roof keeps the high-angle summer sun out of the house.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    A covered porch on the south side provides comfortably shaded outdoor space, and its roof keeps the high-angle summer sun out of the house.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

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  Though small, Treanor’s house feels spacious thanks to an open kitchen and a tranquil mezzanine.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    Though small, Treanor’s house feels spacious thanks to an open kitchen and a tranquil mezzanine.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

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  As for the interior detailing, “In contemporary construction you have a layered approach to materials. Everything is on top of something else. We tried to avoid that.” Indeed, the house’s materials are few and hardy: polished concrete, maple, and Douglas fir, and white walls with a few bold accents of green and blue.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    As for the interior detailing, “In contemporary construction you have a layered approach to materials. Everything is on top of something else. We tried to avoid that.” Indeed, the house’s materials are few and hardy: polished concrete, maple, and Douglas fir, and white walls with a few bold accents of green and blue.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

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  A 1.4-kW solar array by Sharp and propane-powered in-floor radiant heating from Radiantec obviate any need to connect to municipal power.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    A 1.4-kW solar array by Sharp and propane-powered in-floor radiant heating from Radiantec obviate any need to connect to municipal power.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

  • 
  When building such a modest structure in a large landscape, designer and client often had to defend their vision to their collaborators. “We knew this house was going to be for Maggie and she would live there alone,” designer Lauren Moffitt says. “But people are always projecting for future resale. Putting in the smallest size of anything—to any subcontractor, it’s just not reasonable.”  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    When building such a modest structure in a large landscape, designer and client often had to defend their vision to their collaborators. “We knew this house was going to be for Maggie and she would live there alone,” designer Lauren Moffitt says. “But people are always projecting for future resale. Putting in the smallest size of anything—to any subcontractor, it’s just not reasonable.”

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

  • 
  “In contemporary construction you have a layered approach to materials," says Lisa Moffitt. Everything is on top of something else. We tried to avoid that.” Indeed, the house’s materials are few and hardy: polished concrete, maple, and Douglas fir, and white walls with a few bold accents of green and blue.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    “In contemporary construction you have a layered approach to materials," says Lisa Moffitt. Everything is on top of something else. We tried to avoid that.” Indeed, the house’s materials are few and hardy: polished concrete, maple, and Douglas fir, and white walls with a few bold accents of green and blue.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

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  “There’s not a single place where you’re not aware of the larger landscape,” Moffitt says. “The double-height living room is such a generous space that it feels big.”  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    “There’s not a single place where you’re not aware of the larger landscape,” Moffitt says. “The double-height living room is such a generous space that it feels big.”

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

  • 
  Though the house is only 925 square feet, Moffitt argues that it feels much larger, for which she credits three factors: its visual connections to the outdoors, its open spaces, and its simple interior-design language.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    Though the house is only 925 square feet, Moffitt argues that it feels much larger, for which she credits three factors: its visual connections to the outdoors, its open spaces, and its simple interior-design language.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

  • 
  Treanor's bedroom.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    Treanor's bedroom.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

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  A metal lighting fixture with an adjustable cord hangs from the ceiling.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    A metal lighting fixture with an adjustable cord hangs from the ceiling.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

  • 
  “Often when we talk about sustainability we focus on the gadgetry, what makes things feasible off grid,” Moffitt says. “But to me there are more interesting things in passive design that rely on the available sun and wind.” An eight-panel solar array does chip in significantly, generating all the electricity the house needs.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    “Often when we talk about sustainability we focus on the gadgetry, what makes things feasible off grid,” Moffitt says. “But to me there are more interesting things in passive design that rely on the available sun and wind.” An eight-panel solar array does chip in significantly, generating all the electricity the house needs.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

  • 
  “There’s a presence to that place—it’s vast, and constantly shifting,” Moffitt says. “It was clear that this house should be an observation shed for the changing landscape beyond.”  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton
    “There’s a presence to that place—it’s vast, and constantly shifting,” Moffitt says. “It was clear that this house should be an observation shed for the changing landscape beyond.”

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

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