SmartSpace House

COLLABORATOR(S): Jerin Dunsmoor, X Design

TSAWWASSEN, B.C. – The concept driving this home was the belief that small, simple, and intelligent changes – in both the design and construction process of the detached house – would drastically transform its overall performance – economically, ecologically, and socially.

SmartSpace was designed and built as a demonstration project addressing issues of sustainability and affordability. Its purpose was to illustrate how small, simple, intelligent, and inexpensive strategies can contribute to the creation of a more sustainable home that could transformed in accordance with the needs of varied households. It synthesized CMHC’s Flexhousing and Avi Friedman’s Grow Home principles along with local vernacular context to create a unique, high-quality home.

Eight interdependent strategies guided in the creation of the home. These include:

  • minimizing residual space (both inside and out);
  • using natural processes (i.e. stormwater inflitration);
  • anticipating the varied needs of diverse holdholds;
  • passive solar design;
  • practical, economical construction methods

The public spaces of SmartSpace were located above the private rooms in order to maximize natural light where was needed the most. The narrow building footprint minimized wasted space yet allowed for a 3 bedroom/ 2 1/2 bathroom home (typically 2 500 sq. ft.) within a 2000 sq. ft envelope while maintaining a sense of spaciousness and comfort. Subdivision was anticipated by the design through facilitating the transformation of both levels into two, bedrooms dwelling units.

Passive solar design and natural ventilation were easily accommodated into the narrow home. What we saved in wasted interior space was
given to the exterior, allowing interior spaces and activities to expand onto a variety of decks – on and above grade – within a light-filled southfacing courtyard. These decks were designed to allow for varying degrees of privacy and interaction with community members on the street.

The benefits of our strategies were economic, as well. In the long term, lower energy and utility bills will result from our passive solar approach and ample daylighting. More immediate, however, the money saved through simple detailing and building more compact were used towards better quality, non- toxic finishes and high efficiency mechanical/ventilation systems. The home was built for $56/sq.ft. before finishes were installed.

Over a short period of time, it has become recognized and renowned as a showcase for sustainable strategies such as passive solar design, affordability, rainwater collection, adaptability, healthy finishes, and the intelligent use of both interior and exterior space – being included in various publications – such as Western Living – as well as an upcoming television program called The World’s Greenest Homes.