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