A Net-Zero Home in Canada Boasts a Striking Saw-Toothed Roof

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Comprised of two perpendicular forms that gently navigate a lakeside site, Sky House runs off of solar energy.

For this net-zero home on the edge of Ontario's Stoney Lake, Canadian architects Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster devised a massing strategy to avoid blasting bedrock or leveling the site. To negotiate the sloping, uneven lakeside terrain, Jamrozik and Kempster positioned an upper volume perpendicular to a lower volume that’s nestled into the earth.

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A sheltered walkway  provides shade in summer, and admits the lower winter sun indoors to warm up the dark, glossy concrete floors.

A sheltered walkway provides shade in summer, and admits the lower winter sun indoors to warm up the dark, glossy concrete floors.

This approach also allowed them to reuse all the excavated soil from the site and orient the house for lake views without disturbing the natural drainage. 

A ramp leads to into the living areas located in the upper volume.

A ramp leads to into the living areas located in the upper volume.

The lower volume, which is positioned along the northeastern axis of the plot, sits at the lowest point of the slope, and is barely visible as one approaches the main northwestern entrance located along the upper volume. 

A stone foot path and a custom-made undercroft swing bench were incorporated into the pocket of space between the ground and the floor of the upper volume.

A stone foot path and a custom-made undercroft swing bench were incorporated into the pocket of space between the ground and the floor of the upper volume.

For support, the upper volume relies on the partially submerged lower volume on one side, and a concrete pier on the other, which forms a bridge and a cantilever. This creates a pocket of space between the ground and the floor of the upper volume, where Jamrozik and Kempster added a stone foot path, and a custom-made undercroft swing bench. 

A bedroom enjoys views of the lake.

A bedroom enjoys views of the lake.

The lake-facing living spaces are located within the upper volume, while the more enclosed lower volume houses the bedrooms

The living room has a cheerful, blue-and-white color scheme.

The living room has a cheerful, blue-and-white color scheme.

The upper volume is topped with a sawtooth roof structure that’s fitted with photovoltaic panels. These panels draw in enough solar energy from the southern sun to run the entire household. Tesla Powerwall batteries that store electricity produced by the panels and a high-efficiency, wood-burning stove stand at the ready for back-up energy. 

Factory-style skylights are placed on the northern facets of the sawtooth roof.

Factory-style skylights are placed on the northern facets of the sawtooth roof.

Factory-style skylights on the northern facets of the sawtooth roof draw natural light into the living areas. These vertical skylights work in tandem with the fully glazed, south-facing façade to give the interiors a bright and summery feel. 

The wood stove is set within a blue, glazed brick socle.

The wood stove is set within a blue, glazed brick socle.

On the upper volume, a covered balcony extends along the length of one side of the house to become an outdoor walkway connecting the interior spaces to each other, and to the environment. This sheltered walkway also provides shade in summer, and admits the lower winter sun indoors to warm up the dark, glossy concrete floors. 

Formaldehyde-free plywood was used for most of the interior fit outs.

Formaldehyde-free plywood was used for most of the interior fit outs.

A cheerful yellow bathroom

A cheerful yellow bathroom

For the facade, the architects chose durable, low-maintenance materials such as a reflective, standing seam metal roof and a lapped heat-treated, petrified wood cladding. Formaldehyde-free plywood was used for most of the interior fit-outs. 

Colorful scattered coat hooks by the architect-designers Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster add visual interest and texture to a minimalist interior.

Colorful scattered coat hooks by the architect-designers Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster add visual interest and texture to a minimalist interior.

Glossy, dark-dyed, glossy concrete floors extend throughout the space.

Glossy, dark-dyed, glossy concrete floors extend throughout the space.

A blue-and-white color scheme joins with playful elements like a blue, glazed brick socle for the wood stove and colorful scattered coat hooks— imbuing the home with a cheerful, holiday vibe. 

Cross section drawing

Cross section drawing

Floor plan for the lower volume

Floor plan for the lower volume

Floor plan for the upper volume

Floor plan for the upper volume


Project Credits: 

Architecture: Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster 

Builder: Timberline Custom Homes 

Structural engineer: Jim Thomson 

Landscape design: Gray Landscape Construction