Construction on the interior of Gathering House has wrapped up, and we have now photographed its stunningly beautiful interior! Learn more about the project, including why it’s dubbed ‘Gathering House’, AND check out the latest pictures in our online portfolio: Gathering House.
One SEED provided a full scope of services for the renovation and addition including the architecture, interior design, and we even designed some of the furniture. I had a great time touring the finished house with the homeowner and hearing about how much they love the spaces we created for their family. It has to be my favourite part of being an architect. Special thanks to the builders at Lacey Construction, as they did an amazing job on the finish work and paid careful attention to the all of the little design details we lovingly laboured over.
Calling all Passive House and/or West Coast design enthusiasts. If you have been following us over the past six months, then you probably know that we have been working on the super cool OneSEED Passive House Prototype. We are now pleased to announce the soft launch of our prototype with its addition to our portfolio page!!!!! Drum roll please…. Ch-ch-check it out.
We are still the process of tweaking the design and pricing, so check back regularly for updates!
Passive House is a better way to design and build. In fact, it is the only way we should be allowed to build. It is not a brand, it is a building concept. The Passive House standard prioritizes energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and affordability. A house or building that meet its rigorous criteria can be designated as a Certified Passive House.
What it is: A Passive House heats and cools itself the majority of the time, with some help from the sun. It has a super-insulated envelope including all exterior walls, floors, and roofs and uses high-performance windows and doors which are carefully located to make the most of the sun’s solar energy. A careful design is required to eliminate or minimize thermal bridges. A Passive House also has a continuous and super-tight air barrier around the house to minimize heat loss, and it breathes to allow moisture to escape. Heat recovery by a mechanical ventilation system, such as an HRV is required for efficient delivery of the exceptional air quality.
Why it’s important: The construction industry has a huge and detrimental impact on our planet, and in Canada heating and cooling energy alone represents 75% – 85% of the environmental impact of a building over its total lifecycle. As such, it makes a lot of sense to tackle energy efficiency as priority number one. Passive House is the world’s most ambitious and verified energy-efficient building standard resulting in energy performance savings of 80% – 90% of conventional Canadian construction!! Nothing should be more important that the health and comfort of your family. A build up of carbon dioxide in your home can cause fatigue, reduced cognitive function, and emotional upset. Passive Houses have better indoor air quality and lower levels of CO2 , creating healthy spaces for your happy family to thrive.
Benefits: Did we mention that Passive Houses use 80% – 90% less heating and cooling energy than a standard Canadian house?!? They require so little energy to heat (the equivalent of 10 – 15 lit candles in a simple house) or cool, that passive sources (solar, thermal mass, stack effect) with very modest active sources (radiant panels or simple heaters in combination with heat recovery ventilators) will suffice. Some other benefits:
- Thermal comfort: no drafts, no temperature swings, similar temperature surfaces including warm windows
- Sound insulation: very quiet indoors
- Indoor air quality: low CO2 levels, optimized air supply by room, comfortable and healthy humidity levels
- Thermal resilience: in power or fuel outages a Passive House will maintain livable conditions as it holds the heat in (or out depending on seasons) and relies minimally on mechanical systems
- Launching platform for more green: with the addition of photovoltaics or other renewable energy sources, a net-zero home or a house off-the-grid is easier to accomplish as so little energy is required to heat and cool a Passive House.
- Durability: a better built building will last longer, Passive Houses use better building components
- Low maintenance: simple mechanical systems are easier and cheaper to maintain and operate
- Sustainability: low energy consumption. Did we mention that one yet?
- Energy security insurance: Passive Houses immediately result in huge energy savings, and that is in our current time and location where energy is relatively inexpensive. Energy prices are rising every day, so why not protect yourself?
Affordability: Passive House focuses on affordability by using the basic economics of energy cost versus construction cost. As such, the additional envelope costs (insulation, air tightness, and breathability) are offset by the reduced mechanical equipment costs, and are paid off entirely by the energy savings over a few years of operation, and from then on you profit from your decision to build a Passive House. In addition, smart and compact design is a key to achieving Passive House certification, and as such the simplicity of the architecture reduces construction cost as well.
Proven track record: Passive House was first developed in Germany (Passivhaus) and has been successfully implemented in 36 countries around the world. The standard and recommended best practices have been researched and refined over twenty years. The science and economics have been proven in our climate and around the globe in similar climates.
Building types: The name is a bit misleading, but the Passive House standard can be applied to, and is frequently used on, any and all building types. It’s an obvious fit for residential (single-family and multi-family), hospitals, and care homes due to the improved comfort and healthy spaces Passive House provides. It’s also a no-brainer for schools and offices due to the increased performance of occupants. The durability and low maintenance of Passive Houses makes it an attractive option for all building types from single-family homes to industrial complexes.
Technical criteria for our climate:
- Annual space heat and cooling energy demand not exceeding 15 kWh/m2a
- Blower door test for air tightness via over-pressure and under-pressure tests at 50Pa not exceeding 0.6 ACH (air changes per hour)
- Total annual primary heat demand not exceeding 120 kWh/m2a
- recommended: thermal bridge free building envelope with U ≤ 0.15 W/(m²K), which is equivalent to a minimum imperial R-value of R38
- recommended: triple-glazed windows with a g-value (SHGC glass) > 50% and a Ug ≤ 0.8 W/(m²K), which is equivalent to a minimum imperial R-value of R7.1
- recommended: mechanical ventilation with ≥ 75% heat recovery over total system
Fun facts: Did you know that Canada was leading the way globally in passive housing over 30 years ago? In 1981 the CHBA and NRC created the R-2000 program, which was the world’s first national housing program incorporating builder training, tested air tightness levels, model energy targets, and heat recovery ventilation. Also, the first ever passive house ever was built in Regina, Saskatchewan back in 1977! Unfortunately R-2000 was not adopted into Canadian building codes. It did, however, inspire the first Passive Houses built in 1990 in Germany. Passive House has since evolved and its required performance standards now greatly exceed the R-2000 standard.
Now you’re hooked and you want a Passive House… what next?: Give us a call or drop us a line. As a trained Passive House Design Professional, Allison can help with the design, detailing, and permit / construction documentation of your custom Passive House. This includes using the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) software to energy model the home throughout the design process to ensure compliance with the Passive House standard and to prepare the documentation necessary for certification. We can guide you through an integrated design, construction, and certification process to make life easier for you. You also might be interested in One SEED’s Passive House Prototype, which we are very excited to launch after months of hard work. Check back soon for more details!
(Above photo credit: Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects)
“Bruce Kuwabara, who designed Kitchener City Hall about 20 years ago, told University of Waterloo architecture students Thursday that Canada placed second last, 12 out of 13, among the countries surveyed when it comes to reducing pollution that causes climate change, and energy-inefficient buildings are part of the problem.” writes Terry Pender of TheRecord.com
This past Friday, Passive House Northwest held their annual conference at Seattle Pacific University. A few Vancouver Passive House enthusiasts and I took the train down to Seattle to see what’s happening in the world of Passive House and high-performance building just south of the border, where they have very similar climactic conditions and solar access.
It was a great day packed with lecture topics ranging from small local homes, to the Bullitt Center’s Living Building in Seattle, to multi-family Passive House developments in Philadelphia, and all the way to Brussels where they’ve recently included Passive House as a minimum standard for new construction! It was inspiring to hear from people who are making Passive House happen, and who share our passion for doing it better. Suppliers of high-performance windows, doors, and envelope components were exhibiting their products, which offered a unique opportunity to see the products side by side, to experience them first hand, to touch the finishes, and try out their oh-so important hardware.
From a technical stand-point, there were great informal discussions amongst attendees and presenters about the best possible assemblies and details, construction sequencing, and cost saving strategies. I was frequently pulling out drawings of One SEED’s Passive House Prototype to discuss the design and details with building science experts, experienced Passive House builders, developers, energy consultants and other Passive House designers from around the world. The Passive House community is still small enough that we are all trying to support each other, and the Passive House movement, by taking an open-source approach to the design and construction process.
Despite already having excessively high levels of excitement about Passive House, attending the conference reinforced the fact that this is the right way to build. Building to code is building the worst possible home you can without breaking the law. At One SEED we are committed to using Passive House in our standard details, stay tuned for more updates about Passive House and One SEED’s Passive House Prototype.
(Photo Above L-R: A. Holden-Pope – One SEED, A. Yankauskas – Brute Force Collaborative, S. Rohler – RPHD, A. Harrmann – CanPHI, M. Paulsen – Red Door Energy Advisors, M. Eliason – Brute Force Collaborative, Photo credit: D. Paris – The Uprising Development)
This article is a bit of a blast from the past, as it was first published in the Globe and Mail’s Home and Garden section back in September, but we just stumbled upon it. Writer Kerry Gold summarizes the rise and fall, and rise again of the Vancouver Special, and why it is a renovators dream. Check the article out online.
Don’t forget about our ‘Vancouver Special’ Special, as the offer still stands!
With the high price of owning a house or townhouse in Vancouver, many owners are looking to laneway houses to provide a detached home for their parents or aging children right on their property. With the average cost of construction for a two bedroom laneway house between $250 000 and $350 000, it is not a cheap proposition, but it is also not a bad deal compared with townhouses available on the real estate market. Keep in mind that laneway houses cannot be stratified or strata-titled, which means they cannot be sold separately from the house or property. Examples of strata-titled developments include townhouses, condos, and duplexes, where each owner has the right to sell their own unit. Laneway houses can also provide a passive source of income as a rental suite. The potential payback period for your initial capital investment depends on your location and how you design and build the laneway house (hire a great architect!).
If you are considering building a laneway house, here are some of the criteria your lot needs to meet:
- zoned RS-1 or RS-5
- minimum lot width of 33 feet wide
- minimum of 16 feet clear between the house and the laneway house, that would likely require approximately a minimum of 42 feet from the rear property line to the back of your house or porch.
- back yard accessible from an open lane or rear street, or on a corner lot served by an open or dedicated lane
- able to provide a fire access (a path), minimum 3 feet wide, from the street to the laneway house, along the side of the main house
Laneway houses are considered ‘Conditional Approved Uses’ and as such, the City of Vancouver will have more influence on the design of the laneway house, than they would on an ‘Outright Approved Use’, such as a garage. Learn more with this handy how-to guide and as always, hire an architect experienced in laneway house design and permitting, like One SEED, to guide you through the design and permitting process. KYZ Disclaimer
Have you noticed something unique about Vancouver’s residential streetscape? Maybe a lack of garage doors? If you are not from Vancouver, this may seem a bit unfamiliar, as many other Canadian, and even BC, municipalities allow for garages in the front yard or attached at the front of the house. The City of Vancouver’s zoning bylaws for One Family Dwellings (RS zones including RS-1, RS-2, RS-3, RS-4, RS-5, RS-6, and RS-7) and Two-Family Dwellings (RT zones) are designed to encourage car parking in the backyard only, with vehicle access from the rear lane.
What does this mean for your renovation or new construction project? In speaking with a planner at the City of Vancouver, we confirmed that the only scenario where a garage door would be permitted on the front of a home in Vancouver is when lane access is not developed or available. In that situation, the area devoted to parking (the attached garage) within the principle structure (the house) would not contribute to your FSR (the maximum allowable square footage of your home) up to the exemption limits stipulated in your zone. That means that if you do have a home without a rear lane, you won’t be penalized by having to build a smaller home to accommodate the garage. If you do have a rear lane, the bylaw encourages you to develop a detached accessory building, like a detached garage or laneway house, in your rear yard by providing the incentive of exempted FSR for parking, up to the previously mentioned exemption limits. If you really love the idea of an attached garage, because you hate having to run for cover in Vancouver’s winter rain, then it will have to be on the back of your house and it will cost you. The attached parking area counts towards the FSR of your house, significantly reducing the square footage of your house that you can dedicate to living spaces.
This unique bylaw means no garage doors, but also no driveways in the front yard. Some resulting benefits include that our sidewalks allow for the safe and easy movement of pedestrians and more street parking spaces are available. In addition, the lack of driveways in our front yards means that this unpaved space can be reclaimed as an outdoor sanctuary. Make the most of it, as a nicely landscaped front yard will ground your house in the surrounding environment. It will encourage you to spend more time in the front yard, or looking out over the front yard, thus providing more eyes on the street and a safer neighbourhood. Also, while you are out there enjoying the space, you will likely bump into some neighbours, and voila you have created a space to connect with your community! KYZ Disclaimer
We are introducing a new series for One SEED’s Blog, entitled ‘Know Your Zoning‘ which aims to provide homeowners with empowering knowledge about the development potential for their property, and to clarify zoning questions we are often asked by homeowners, looking to renovate or build new. The information we provide is based on our years of experience successfully getting projects permitted in the City of Vancouver and our conversations with staff and planners at the City of Vancouver. This probably seems obvious, but bylaws change, are open to interpretation, and are influenced by project and site specific scenarios. We hope to shed some light on some of the more confusing or common residential zoning issues, however the information we provide should only be considered as a starting point for your research. In all cases, the City’s Zoning & Development Bylaw, shall prevail. And as always, hire an architect like One SEED to guide you through the design and permitting process, as we will help you to understand the subtleties of the development options available to you, for your particular property.
Check back on Monday for our first subject, attached garages. And email us with ideas for future topics.
Thanks to our happy clients! You can read more testimonials on our website, or check some out at Houzz below.
Passive Housing is hitting the mainstream in Canada. Thursday night’s Global National included a segment on the benefits of Passive House, and made the financial case for why your next home should be a Passive House. Dawna Friesen of Global National introduced the feature by stating that “there is a new construction trend taking shape in Canada – one that could save homeowners thousands of dollars. It’s called Passive Housing, an ultra low energy, eco-friendly construction that reduces energy costs to virtually nothing.” George Drolet’s report included compelling thermal energy photographs of neighbouring houses, one which was built to Passive House standards, and the other which was not. He also reported that the average Canadian household spends approximately $5000 a year on energy. With Passive House cutting energy consumption down by 90%, think of what you could do with an extra $4500 in your pocket each year! As one of BC’s few Trained Passive House Design Professionals, we especially like when Drolet mentions that “thanks to a few passionate converts, the idea is getting a foothold.” Watch the video on Global’s website.
The Metro Vancouver Branch of the Cascadia Green Building Council invites you to take part in February’s Cascadia Community Social, taking place Wednesday, February 27, 6:00 – 9:30 p.m. on the 1st floor of 200 Granville Street, Vancouver. Join us, and other members of Vancouver’s green community for drinks, appies, and thought-provoking discussion. Our close friend Michelle Lee will be speaking at the event! Click here to learn more and register.
We are showing off our Borderline Coffee Table in our office lounge, and have just added it to the ‘Small Things‘ section of our online portfolio. We had a ton of fun experimenting with different ways to use the built-in vase, as you can see from the photos above!
It took awhile to wrap up on the few outstanding items on our own office renovation, but we have finally photographed our commercial interior tenant improvement and posted it to our online portfolio under ‘Commercial Projects‘. It has undergone a HUGE transformation from the space as we first saw it last Spring, and we are loving every sunny minute in our new space. Once again, we owe a huge thanks to all of the friends and family who got their hands dirty with our renovation. We could not have done it without you… you know who you are.
BUILDEX kicked off Architecture Day with a packed house at the seminar entitled “The Essence of the West Coast Spirit“. The lecture provided an overview of the West Coast Spirit aesthetic from its early beginnings as West Coast Modernism to its current unnamed incarnation, including fresh examples of architectural innovation within BC’s unique environment. One SEED’s ‘Ridiculously Small (eco-) Footprint Laneway House‘ was featured in the presentation as an example of design that is pioneering a new approach to density in Vancouver. Our compact home design continues the legacy and language of West Coast Modernism while incorporating more contemporary forms, and addressing the evolving concept of what a single family home can be.
The Architectural Historian Harold Kalman gave a fascinating presentation on the origins of West Coast Style. I won’t do his work the disservice of trying to summarize it here, but I would like to share one or two points. He described the five primary sources, or influences, of the distinctive West Coast Style, which ruled our coast from 1940 – 1960 as the International Style (or International Modernism), the 1920s California Bungalow, the architecture of Japan as interpreted by Frank Lloyd Wright, early Modernism in Oregon, and lastly First Nations’ building traditions. It is an eclectic list, however one can certainly see how the above would result in the distinctive low-pitched roofs, the large overhangs, the glass walls connecting outside to inside, and the rational open concept planning of the West Coast Style.
James Tuer followed with an exploration of the current architectural trend of West Coast Spirit. It is a style which respects the past, embraces the present, and tries to anticipate the future. Shelley Craig of Urban Arts provided a motivational look forward, addressing the urgent paradigm shift needed in residential architecture in Vancouver as an opportunity, rather than a harsh reality. Her vision included density, affordability, sustainability and collective experience, all issues that One SEED is passionate about, and has been exploring with some of our more compact designs.
February 14, 2013 ... The touring exhibition makes its way to BUILDEX at the Vancouver Convention Centre
February 14th is Architecture day at BUILDEX, and this year’s theme is West Coast Design. What better way is there to spend Valentine’s Day, than checking out the touring “Redefining the West Coast Spirit” exhibit at BUILDEX? The exhibit highlights how a select group of emerging BC architects are blurring the lines between inner space and outer landscape through thoughtful design… and you guessed it, One SEED is one of the featured firms. BUILDEX is on today and tomorrow at the new Vancouver Convention Centre West.
Our ‘Updo’ House is a finalist in the Best Exterior Renovation Category for a GVHBA Ovation Award. We are pleased to share the honor with the construction team at Green City Builders who did an amazing job of executing the design on site. The Ovation Awards recognize excellence in renovation, new home construction and design in Metro Vancouver. The Awards Gala takes place on Saturday, April 20th … so fingers crossed!
“The ‘Best of’ winners are professionals recognized by our community of homeowners and home design enthusiasts for delivering exceptional customer service and results, and for creating the most inspiring and innovative residential designs in the past year.” said Liza Hausman, vice president of community at Houzz.
Houzz.com is a popular website where home owners can browse millions of photos of new homes or house renovations by room and style to get inspired, and find profiles and reviews for home professionals in their area. Check out One SEED’s profile here where we proudly show off our ‘Best of Houzz 2013′ winner’s badge.
“Houzz awards Best of Houzz profile badges every year to the top home pros in the Houzz professional community…. The annual Best of Houzz picks also reveal decorating and remodeling tastes and trends all over the world. … This honour goes to professionals with the most popular design work and top ratings” – Vanessa Brunner, Houzz Editorial Staff
The ‘Spaces + Architecture’ section of the M.W.C.D. blog touched base with One SEED over the holidays, and the online version of their article is out now. In the interview entitled ‘Pushing the Sustainability Envelope One SEED at a Time for a Greener Future!’ we discuss our commitment to sustainability in our design and architecture practice.
Here’s an excerpt from the intro: “In recent years, the demand for sustainable and eco-friendly architecture and design has increased which has helped to create exciting and ground-breaking opportunities for companies that specialize in these fields. … Holden-Pope shares the inspiration behind her works and the company, which is not only rooted in her experiences with nature and the outdoors, but in her fierce desire to protect environmental elements through her profession, as well as through the development of beautiful, green architectural and interior works.” Read the full article here: Modern Wine Cellar Designs.
“Redefining the West Coast Spirit, is a touring exhibition organized by the Architectural Institute of British Columbia. The show highlights work by a select group of new and emerging architectural firms, and illustrates how practitioners are designing spaces and places in response to our unique coastal environment in an age of increased environmental sensitivity and technological innovation.” – Nanaimo Art Gallery.
On Saturday, January 12th, the Nanaimo Art Gallery will be hosting an opening reception for the exhibition sponsored by the Vancouver Island Chapter of the RAIC. The exhibit features three projects by One SEED, as well as a profile on our firm, and will be open from January 11th to February 9th at the Downtown Gallery, located at 150 Commercial Street, Nanaimo, BC. Although One SEED is based in Vancouver, we have designed houses all over BC, including several island projects. If you live in the area, or are visiting, then check the exhibit out.
If you are a lover of Neapolitan pizza, then you are in luck. One SEED and our clients at La Ruota, a local Italian pizzeria, successfully presented a concept to the Advisory Design Panel at the University Endowment Lands last night. Our development permit for the 5 700 block of University Boulevard has been approved!
The space will have a modern west-coast design while capturing the rustic charm of La Ruota’s warm and fresh Italian cooking. The collage of images above expresses the design language we proposed to the Advisory Design Panel, as we want to develop a distinct and casual dining experience which contributes to the charm and character of the Village. One feature will be a large Italian-style stone oven which will be located front and centre so customers can see their food made to order in front of them, courtesy of La Ruota’s expert chefs. Of course sustainability will be a huge focus of our final design, and will be integrated from the construction through to the food prep and delivery.
A development permit was required for this project as the proposed use is listed as a ‘Conditional Use’ and not an ‘Outright Approved Use’ within the zoning bylaw. The ADP is composed of local professionals including architects, planners, and landscape architects, as well as members of the general public, who want to shape their community and look out for the best interest of the public. Members of the panel expressed enthusiasm about One SEED’s proposed upscale design, and voted unanimously to approve our proposal. Keep your eyes peeled, as the modern rustic 900 square foot pizzeria will be moving in to the Village complex soon!
The David Suzuki Foundation put together a clever video on YouTube to thank its monthly donors. Check out our personalized thanks. We are so proud to support such a great organization!
When you are at the grocery store and can only afford to go organic on a few items, you should go green on the most porous vegetables with the most surface area (ie. possible toxins) per volume. The vegetable that meets that criteria with flying colours is broccoli due to its tree like structure. We can apply that ‘Broccoli Principle’ to your home when furnishing a renovation or new build. If you are worried about toxic off-gassing or VOCs, but only have the budget to go green on a few items, focus on your porous products like carpeting, couches, and textiles. This is because of their tendency to trap fumes in their soft fibers. Keep your eyes peeled for third party low-VOC certification systems like Green Label, to keep your home and family healthy.
One great example is FLOR, an innovative modular carpet system with a Green Label Plus rating for low VOCs, and it also tackles green from a few other angles. The carpet tiles are modular, so you can easily replace one square if you get a catastrophic stain, instead of having to throw out the whole rug. They have a closed-loop return and recycle program, and their carpet tiles are made from recycled content and renewable sources. Plus they are a lot of fun! You assemble a series of carpet squares of varying colours, patterns, and textures to create custom rugs, runners, or wall-to-wall designs. In our office we used a combination of tiles which range from 41% – 100% recycled content face fibers. You can see more pictures of our lounge’s finished area rug on our office renovation page.
We love vaulted ceilings, high ceilings, and exposed structure ceilings like concrete or wood decking in lofts, but they all have the same problem: lighting. What do you do with a sloped ceiling? Pot-lights need to be gimballed (angled), but that only works to a certain slope, and the canopy for suspended lights looks goofy. What do you do with really high ceilings? Suspended lights need to have REALLY long cables and therefore end up looking disproportionate, or pot lights are too high up to provide sufficient lighting. What can you do with an exposed structure ceiling? Puncturing the structure to recess pot-lights is expensive and difficult, and then you have to try to conceal wires running along your feature ceiling. How about trying to up-light your beautiful vaulted ceiling? You can use wall sconces, but that only works near the wall itself, and creates ‘hot spots’ of uneven lighting on your feature ceiling. What about lighting in ceilings that are part of your roof? The recessed junction box for any light fixture compromises your air and vapour barrier, and usually reduce the depth of insulation, and therefore its effectiveness.
Cable lighting is our favourite solution for tricky spaces as it can solve all of the aforementioned problems and more. They are flexible, customizable, and look great. You can mount the cables between walls or ceilings, or use a combination of both to light your space. They can make horizontal or vertical turns, and can cross lines using a variety of hardware options. (see more below)
There are several different heads or pendants to choose from, so you can customize the look (from dragonflies to smoked glass to origami paper) to suit your style. The photos above are from TechLighting’s Kable Lite line. LED fixtures are readily available, so you benefit from the energy savings as well as a reduction in the number of times you need to climb up on a ladder to change the bulb. The only visible component besides the cables and the light heads is a power-feed canopy with either a concealed or visible transformer. It’s really quite an elegant solution.
Many of our clients haven’t had the opportunity to see a cable light in person, and there aren’t many on display in lighting showrooms around Vancouver. With help from Robinson Bath and Lighting Centre, we installed one in our office lounge to demonstrate the beautiful technology. Come by and check it out!
We trust the construction of our Borderline Coffee Table in the capable hands of our close friend Piet Brusse. Piet is a local carpenter, furniture maker, law student, architecture enthusiast, and renaissance man. He brings his signature precision to the construction of our table, and executes the design flawlessly. Thanks Piet!
When adding solid colour to a flat furniture surface, as we did with the Borderline Coffee Table, you don’t want to mess around. We worked with Boelling Smith, who applied the cabinetry grade lacquer finish to our table components in their paint shop.
There are many steps involved when having a custom piece of furniture made. Here you can see Chico from the Broadway Welding Shop showing off the completed stainless steel frame for our Borderline Coffee Table , which were made to spec.
Thanks to Chico and Nick at BWS for a striking and speedy job. Next stop is to drop the legs and other pieces off at the builder’s shop…
One way to be a bit more gentle on our poor old planet, is to limit the purchase of new consumer items by buying used. This is especially a good idea for soft furnishings where off-gassing fabrics and foams, which provide the most potential for harm to occupants, have become neutral or stable after completing their off-gassing phase years ago. For our office we dug around on Craigslist to find ourselves a ‘new’ second-hand couch for our lounge. We specifically sought out any couch by the late Upholstery Arts because of their legacy of sustainable furniture. You may be familiar with their beautiful products, but did you know that they addressed sustainability in all components of their soft furnishings? Their fabrics were durable, low-VOC, and made from green sources. The frames were built from FSC certified wood products, and the fills included low-VOC soy-based foams. We selected a model with a neutral palette and simple design, to ensure it has the longevity to last through several eras of design and colour trends.
Unfortunately UA went out of business, but many of their couches are still a available second hand. Several local companies have filled the void and are providing eco-alternatives to UA with really impressive specifications. If you are buying new, check out: Fawcett Mfg’s sustainable couches at www.fawcettmfg.com, or Live Edge Design’s reclaimed lounge furniture at www.liveedge.com.
Here is a modern and sleek solution to hide a ‘less than desirable’ window or view without compromising on natural light. We had the guys at Broco Glass install a sheet of privacy glass in our office which doubles as a dry-erase board for brainstorming and design sessions.
We selected a tempered glass with one frosted side, and sized it approximately 3/4″ smaller than the wall opening on all sides. The glass is then suspended within the window jamb with stainless steel side clamps to keep the sill completely free of glass or hardware. This also reinforces the notion of the glass floating within the window frame.
The frosted side was installed facing the back, so the front face of the glass is smooth, ready to be used as a dry-erase board, and easily cleaned. The frosted finish provides many benefits. Firstly, it allows lots of diffused natural light to pass through it into the room. Secondly, it creates an ethereal white glowing background for the doodles and notes we place on the board, which would be much more difficult to decipher if placed on clear glass! Lastly, it provides privacy and successfully conceals an unfortunate view.
The Architectural Institute of BC is featuring One SEED as one of six emerging architectural firms in BC in their exhibit entitled: ‘Redefining the West Coast Spirit: Emerging West Coast Firms with Connections to the Land‘. This AIBC-generated exhibit highlights the work of new and emerging architectural firms demonstrating leadership and commitment to West Coast Modernism. It features the next generation of B.C. talent by showcasing their ideas about designing buildings, spaces and places in our unique coastal environment. The exhibition, under the guidance of guest curator James Tuer Architect AIBC, also provides a glimpse into the creative process and technologies that shape today’s West Coast architecture. Featured firms include DiStefano Architecture; JWT Architecture and Planning; Level Architecture + Design; One Seed Architecture + Interiors; Shape Architecture Inc; and Urban Arts Architecture.
The show is on now and runs until Dec. 20th at the AIBC’s Gallery (#100 – 440 Cambie Street, Vancouver, open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.), so go check it out! Here is a link to our panels featured in the show, showcasing Geometric House, Narrow Passive House, and Cliff House.
What is Passive House? Passive House is a building standard, or concept, which focuses on energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and affordability. It was developed in Germany and Sweden, has been successfully implemented in 36 countries around the world, and has been researched and refined for the past twenty years (ie. the science and economics have been proven!). A huge focus of the environmentally friendly Passive House standard is on energy conservation, as a result Passive Houses use 80% – 90% less heating and cooling energy than a standard Canadian house. They require so little heat to warm them, that they can be heated by passive sources (solar) or very modest active sources (radiant panels or simple heaters in combination with heat recovery ventilators).
About the course: Dr. Guido Wimmers of the Canadian Passive House Institute led the week-long intensive “Full Course in Passive House Design & Construction” which was held at the VanDusen Botantical Gardens. The course was aimed at motivated design and building professionals passionate about Passive House and sustainable construction, and some interested homeowners were in attendance as well. The week was energizing, inspirational, and incredibly detailed and educational. It was a privilege to meet like-minded individuals and discuss sustainable ways to improve the way we build and design.
Helpful Tips for Passive House Design and Construction:
- Start with a great team. Hire a Trained Passive House Design Professional (such as One SEED!) to design the home, provide complete construction documentation (drawings, details, and specifications), and guide you through the construction and certification process. Your architect should help you round out the team by finding a great builder and mechanical / HVAC designer. Your team should work closely together throughout the design and construction phase.
- Focus on a smart and compact design. Limit unnecessary corners and intersections.
- Think about solar orientation. Use strategically placed windows as solar collectors and design site specific shading devices to avoid overheating.
- Incorporate thermal mass to regulate temperature flux and store heat.
- Create an air-tight envelope to minimize heat loss.
- Super-insulate the envelope (the outside shell including walls, floors, roofs, windows, and doors) of your house with high-performance assemblies.
- Avoid thermal bridging and penetrations. Create a thermal break wherever a structural element needs to penetrate the house’s thermal envelope.
- Details, details, details. A Passive House needs to be properly planned, designed, detailed, and energy modelled before construction begins.
Dr. Wimmers aptly described the building code as the worst case scenario for construction that can legally be considered acceptable, and even then 67% of new single-family homes don’t meet code by a significant amount! ‘Code compliance’ is not a target we should be aiming for…Passive House is. At One SEED we are committed to working on Passive House projects, so please contact us with any questions or to discuss designing your Passive House… Passive House is a better way to live.
One of the benefits of designing a home for someone, is getting to celebrate together when all of the hard work is completed! Our WaterHouse clients decided to open their house up to friends and family on Sunday afternoon to commemorate and unveil the transformation.
The presentation panels that we prepared for the Board of Variance were on display showing images of the previous house, and renderings of the now completed design. As a result of the proposal, we were granted variances which allowed the construction of a large covered front porch and the addition of a third storey, which otherwise would not have been permitted.
It was a great afternoon with food, drinks, and friendly conversation. The owners took guests on regular guided tours through the fully renovated home and new top storey. As they had completed a lot of the finishing work themselves, we all had a great time ‘oooh-ing’ and ‘aaah-ing’ at their handy-work. It was a pleasure to see their friends and family discover the great spaces that had been created, and learn about the sustainable and contemporary materials that were used. Thanks to the hosts for a wonderful afternoon!
We have an immediate opening for an energetic and self-motivated Intern Architect or Architectural Technologist. One SEED Architecture + Interiors is a boutique firm specializing in contemporary and sustainable residential architecture. We are constantly inspired by our clients and the natural surroundings to approach our work with passion and sensitivity. Look around our website to learn more about why you want to work with us!
- Strong interest in sustainability
- Passionate about design with an instinct for contemporary design
- Experience with the coordination and creation of permit and construction drawings
- Technical understanding of construction and envelope details
- Experience detailing, including the design and drafting of details
- Quick thinking, with an attention to detail and organization
- A strong graphic eye
- Experienced with Revit, and able to jump right in on Revit based projects
- Excellent communication skills including written
- Experience in residential design and wood frame construction
- Personal green accreditation (LEED AP, Passivhaus)
- Experience on green projects, and the submission process for eco-rating systems (LEED, Built Green, R2000, etc)
- 3D rendering experience
- Photoshop, AutoCAD
This is a full time position at our downtown Vancouver office. Please complete a quick questionnaire and send it, along with a PDF of your CV and portfolio, to email@example.com . We thank everyone for their interest in One SEED however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted. No phone calls or drop-ins please.
We’re getting close to finishing up on the studio area of our new office… here’s what it looks like today. Next up: the kitchen and lounge.
When choosing a new office space, we wanted to promote the use of alternative transportation and to reduce the pollution and land development impacts resulting from automobile use. The solution? To select an office located smack dab in the middle of Vancouver’s bike and transportation network. See the bike map above with One SEED’s studio location shown. We are right by the intersection of downtown Vancouver’s two separated bikeways along Dunsmuir Street and Hornby Street. The Dunsmuir bikeway is less than 1 block from our front door, as well one of the City’s new ‘bike corrals’. In fact you might be familiar with our bike rack corral because of the knitted cozies decorating them.
We are within four blocks of the Canada Line Skytrain as well as the Expo Skytrain, the West Coast Express, the Sea Bus, and pretty much every bus route in the downtown core. There are some great resources available for planning your bike route, some of them even include information on slope grades if you want to avoid the big hills. Check out UBC’s site as well as the City of Vancouver’s.
The siding is almost fully up on the Narrow Passive House! We specified pre-finished siding products, which have many benefits including extra durability. Another benefit which home owners appreciate is how quickly pre-finished products are installed. Once the siding is installed the house starts to look like their house from the design drawings, which is a really exciting time. We used a pre-finished fiber cement panel siding with aluminum trim, cedar siding pre-stained with a locally made non-toxic stain, and factory-finished horizontal ribbed steel siding.
The inefficient incandescent light bulb is a thing of the past, and we’re often asked how to choose between CFLs and LEDs. Both bulbs are readily available in a variety of shapes to suit new or existing light fixtures, but they are not created equal. If you can afford the higher up-front cost for LED lights, then that is our top recommendation for sustainability, plus their longer performance life means they pay back that upfront cost over time. If you need each bulb to throw off a lot of light, then CFLs are still your best bet as they are more readily available in higher lumens (amount of visible light emitted from the bulb).
- super long life (22+ years, 25 000 hours) = 2.5 times that of CFL, 25 times that of incandescent
- soft white light is available (2700K or less to get that warm light provided by incandescents)
- instantly on (no warm-up delay)
- mercury and lead free
- quiet operation (no hum)
- emit very little heat and will not fade fabrics or furnishings
- can be dimmed and controlled with sensors and timers
- consume less energy for same amount of light (12W for 806lm in an LED, 15W for 800lm in a CFL, 60W for 850lm in an incandescent)
- CONS: hard to find over 12W (equivalent of 60W incandescent / 800lm), often have yellow lens cap over the bulb to produce a white glow when the bulb is on, this means visible bulbs that are turned off look yellow. However, white cover caps are available on certain models.
- long life (9+ years, 10 000 hours) = 10 times that of incandescent
- soft white light is available (2700K or less), so you don’t have to have that cool blue light the first models provided
- CONS: contain mercury, slower warm-up (light isn’t full brightness immediately), only certain models can be used with dimmers and timers
- consume less energy than incandescent for the same amount of light
The Vancouver Public Space Network is expanding the opportunities for outdoor eating this summer with Lunch Meet in the city’s Crosstown area. Lunch Meet is a weekly lunchtime street event every Thursday in July from 11:30am-1:30pm on Abbott Street. We went and had a great time seeing Vancouverites celebrate meeting new people and transforming a public space. It was also nice to have a sandwich in the sunshine… in the middle of the street. Learn more about VPSN, as they do great work for our City. Their motto is “advocacy, education and outreach in support of Vancouver’s public spaces”.
Our library features a punchy red wallpaper from Sandpiper Studios’ Eco-Chic line. The silhouette of tree branches continue the outdoors-y theme of our office, while the bright red background is energizing and contemporary. We’ve used it to line the back of display bookcases, as well as to customize glass doors on our cabinetry. As the name suggests, this line of products is super sustainable. The paper itself comes from sustainably managed forests. The wallpaper promotes a healthy indoor air quality through the use of water-based, non-toxic inks. Finally, the product is biodegradable, so it won’t be clogging up landfills at the end of its life!
Moving out of your old space and into your new space is a big undertaking. Not only that, the traditional moving process can be hard on the environment with the consumption of all of those cardboard boxes and packing tape. There are some great options out there for re-useable boxes which are not only a lot easier to use and sturdier than cardboard, but they can be delivered right to your door, and picked up at the final destination.
We are using Small Business BC’s 2011 Best Green Business Award winner, FROGBOX, for our office move because of their emphasis on eco-friendly innovations for moving. Every FROGBOX saves three trees from being cut-down for cardboard boxes during its lifecycle and has a much smaller carbon footprint than cardboard boxes. Also, they donate a percentage of their profit to frog habitat restoration! Hard to resist an eco-option like that, plus, who has the time to go and purchase cardboard boxes, set them all up, then break them down for recycling? FROGBOX is delivering the re-useable boxes and moving dollies right to our door, then picking them back up at our new office when we’re done.
It is still a war zone in here, but we are definitely making some amazing progress. The office is starting to take shape and we cannot wait to see it all set-up.
THANK YOU to our tireless friends and family who have helped us assemble our new office this week. Tobin has been here pretty much all day every day (for a full week) when he hasn’t been at his own job. Thanks to John Pope for pulling two shifts in a row! He got our wireless up and running AND built a ton of shelving which was, for the most part, built with the right side up. Thanks to Derek and Jacqi for bringing an engineer’s precision to the installation of those feature plywood panels. We’ll admire your work every day when we hang up our coats. Thanks to Donna for reigning in the chaos on the job site, and cleaning our windows! Lastly, thanks to Simoniz for his spirited tackling of our storage millwork pieces, and for wrapping up a long work day with a hilarious episode of Portlandia. We are definitely getting closer to being up and running…
Well maybe not lights, but in white letters on our lobby’s charmingly retro directory!
We are in the thick of the construction of Phase 2 for the Gathering House. Check out the progress, and the beautifully executed knife-edge connection plate detail at the entry post.
Wallpaper is back, and we’re on-board! Wall coverings are a great way to highlight a feature wall and get a dramatic splash of colour, pattern, or texture. There are quite a few green options on the market these days, so you can have some fun without a guilty conscience. The major rules of thumb when it comes to sustainable wallpapers are: avoid vinyl, use non-toxic low VOC adhesives, use products with water-based inks, and get products printed on recycled or sustainably forested FSC certified paper.
For our office renovation we chose two great eco wallpaper products. We installed the first of two this past weekend in our ‘soon-to-be kitchen and lounge’. A HUGE thank you to Allison’s husband Tobin Pope for spending a full weekend building furniture and hanging wall paper with us. We could not have done it without you.
Our kitchen and lounge area showcases Amy Butler’s ‘Sun and Moon’ print in a fun and sophisticated geometric pattern. This product is super green… it uses water-based inks and is printed on FSC certified paper. Even the tractors used to harvest the trees use vegetable oil in the hydraulics, and for every tree cut down, three more are planted!
I had a chance to swing by the Geometric House last week as the owners are hoping One SEED can help them with some additional exterior design work including an outdoor kitchen and an outdoor hot tub platform and lounge area. We snapped some shots of the house while we were there, as we had not seen it in over a year. Notice how the wood clad second floor floats over the glass wall of the dining room below. This is a true inside-outside house as can be seen in the living room where the beams, soffits, and flooring continue out past the exterior curtain wall of glass. We love the clean lines and earthy materials… but I guess we should, seeing as we designed it.
Thanks to VanL Construction and Aquilini Properties for doing such a nice job renovating our space! We were very excited to see the suite for the first time since the work was finished, and we weren’t disappointed. The transformation is pretty remarkable (see the space before). The maple flooring has been stained a warm brown colour with a distressed finish to suit the heritage character of the building. The lighting is installed and provides a bright and airy feel to the room. The repair and finish work on the walls and 10 feet high ceilings look great. You would never know that there had been a drop ceiling here before, not to mention all the mechanical and other services running above it. The space has an artistic loft feel. I think we’re really going to enjoy ourselves here. Now it’s time to furnish and decorate…
Lighting is a key element to setting the ambience in a space. Not only that, it’s an opportunity to provide a focal point with sculptural interest. We’ve selected stunning and green light fixtures for our new office, to showcase some of the great options out there for our clients. We are really excited about David Trubridge’s Coral 600 light fixture which we will be using over the coffee table in our lounge.
Here are just a few reasons that it makes the cut:
- First of all, the 24″ diameter lamp shade is flat-packed in a tiny recyclable cardboard box, which greatly reduces the environmental impact of the transportation. It meant that we had to spend an evening putting together the spherical light shade, as our pictures demonstrate, but it was a good time.
- Secondly, the lamp shade itself is made entirely of bamboo plywood from sustainably managed plantations, and has a light caramel stain finish.
- Thirdly, the cleverly planned design uses a series of repeating shapes cut from the bamboo plywood in a shape and pattern which uses the minimum amount of material for the maximum output of useable material, reducing the consumption of resources.
- Fourth, how could we resist a designer whose sustainable philosophy is dubbed the ‘Seed System’ ???
- We, of course, will be lamping it with a high-efficiency LED bulb.
- Finally, the form itself is inspired by the natural structures and shapes in coral reefs. Creating a connection with nature through these types of subtle reminders is an important aspect of sustainable design which is often forgotten.
Those are just a few reasons we love our new lounge light!
The first thing our new office space needed was some simplicity. We removed the wall which zigged and zagged through the space, dividing rooms and blocking off access to the windows. The out-dated drop T-bar ceiling was removed, adding another 2′ of ceiling height to the office. This will help disperse natural and artificial light throughout. We were prepared to go for an industrial look with lots of exposed building systems and cables which were previously hidden by the T-bar ceiling, but we were really happy to find out that they could be removed or relocated for the most part. Years of changing building systems had left the carcasses of several non-operational mechanical boxes attached to the walls. Now those guys are gone too! Things are coming along!
As you may know, at One SEED we are supporters of the David Suzuki Foundation. We have joined their campaign for monthly donors as part of their “Radically Canadian” campaign which goes from now until Canada Day in an effort to prevent the undoing of our existing environmental protection legislation. We hope you’ll join us too, because as Canadians, we need to protect our health and this beautiful environment.
We are excited to announce that we have leased an office space on the sixth floor of the iconic Seymour Building at 525 Seymour Street in downtown Vancouver! The building was completed in 1920, and the lobby and exterior demonstrate the ornate details typical of North-American Neo-Gothic architecture. It is registered as a building of individual heritage importance on the City of Vancouver’s Heritage Register.
We selected a charmingly small suite with great potential. The suite interior had fallen victim to almost 100 years of renovations in every direction. It was without personality and was definitely run-down. That’s where we come in to infuse it with a bit of One SEED’s distinctively warm and contemporary style. It’s an exciting juxtaposition with the classical exterior of the Seymour Building. We’ve already started renovating the office, so keep checking back for updates and images of the progress. Also, don’t forget to check back soon for our new contact information.
Things are moving along with the Narrow Passive House and construction is well under way. Today I had the privilege of walking around on the soon-to-be green roof during a field review. We used a ‘flat’ roof (these things should never actually be flat) over the majority of the house to provide a huge outdoor living space which is accessed from the main staircase of the house. This extra real-estate is a huge asset on a residential lot, and not only that…. the views of the mountains and downtown (as seen over neighbouring roof tops) are stunning! You never would have known that this lot could have such amazing views. I can’t wait to see it when the greenery is all in place, as over 50% of all roof surface area on this project will be planted with grasses, herbs, and sedums. It will be such a fantastic urban retreat.
Our sustainable work for the Narrow Passive House was recently hand-picked by one of Houzz’s writers for a featured article on the homepage of the Houzz.com website. The article addresses how roof overhangs can be used for passive heating and day-lighting. It also mentions how the Narrow Passive House takes this concept one step further with a thermal mass wall which acts as a solar collector. Check it out.
We are looking for an energetic and self-motivated individual for a unique position which is comprised of approximately 90% project work and 10% involvement in the shaping of our business. It is an exciting opportunity with a young and flexible firm.
- 4 years architectural experience
- Comfortable with Revit, Photoshop, AutoCAD, and rendering
- Experience with the coordination and preparation of permit and construction drawings
- Technical knowledge of construction and envelope principles
- Self-guided detailing, including design and production of details
- LEED AP or studying to become LEED AP
- Passionate about design with an instinct for contemporary design
- Creative writing skills and a graphic eye
- Attention to detail and organized
The application deadline for the position is midnight on Monday, April 9th. The position is available April 16th. Please send a PDF of resumes and portfolios to firstname.lastname@example.org . We thank everyone for their interest in One SEED however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted. No phone calls or drop-ins please.
Special thanks to Edward at Elation Business Websites for his hard work on our new site. He did a great job bringing our demanding vision to digital life. We hope everyone is enjoying the new site, and sharing it with friends! Let us know what you think.
Since first arriving in Vancouver I’ve held a special place in my heart for “Vancouver Specials”, those low-sloped gable roof houses built in the sixties and seventies which pop-up in most of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods. There is something about their simple geometric form and flexible floor which speaks to me… while at the same time demanding a renovation to capture their modern spirit! If you have a Vancouver Special which is suffering from a drab exterior and/or outdated interior, then let us help you show off your home’s true potential with a contemporary and sustainable renovation. We are currently offering a discount of 10% off of all architectural services for contemporary renovations to Vancouver Specials if you are willing to have your home featured in one of The Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s annual Vancouver Special Tours.
Writer Seth Putnam from Canadian Builder’s Quarterly Magazine caught up with Allison to discuss her passion for architecture and the founding of One SEED Architecture + Interiors. The interview touches upon the green advancements we’ve taken with the Narrow Passive House, as well as our laneway prototype entered in the 20×20 competition. Check out the article here.