One of my favorite assignments this year has been the sustainable house project we had in December. A young artsy couple was wanting to build their own custom home and we were the ones to design it. The couple wanted their new home to be as sustainable and as environmentally friendly as possible. They loved mid-century modern design and wanted a space where they could each be alone to paint, read, write, film, etc. The couple also loved hosting and having friends over. Both enjoyed being outside and having lots of natural light in the house. I wanted to design a house for them that was functional, beautiful, and sustainable with a small carbon footprint. I wanted them to have a space that allowed them to perfectly enjoy all of their favorite activities. They wanted the structure built by the lake in Alberta, Canada; so climate would definitely be an important factor. So I went out to the location to study the site. Sorry cows.


In class we had been studying a lot about building orientation and how the sun might affect the structure. Passive solar design was something that would be important to implement into the house. Another thing to consider would be window locations. As I was writing this all down, I started to picture myself in this new home. What views would I like to see? Where is the sunrise and sunset exactly? I knew she loved the morning sun and watching the sunsets was important to her. After taking lots of photos of the location and writing jot notes as thoughts would pop into my mind I decided that I should probably come back later that evening to see where the sun would set. When I came back a couple hours later, I watched the sunset and found the perfect spot for the house. I wouldn’t have to rip out any trees, we would be able to construct around the existing vegetation. It would be perfectly sheltered by strong winds and still get the best views of both the sunrise and the sunsets. *Happy Dance* From here, I now had to start sketching, specifying certain products and materials. I already knew what view I wanted to draw for the clients. There was no way I going to leave that sunset unmentioned.

This is the material board I put together to represent the colours and textures for the overall space. For the flooring I decided to use a light grey poured concrete because it would be long lasting and would require very little maintenance. The roof would have FSC [Forest Stewardship Counsel] certified natural bamboo planks to bring a lighter feel to the space. The walls would all be finished with a 0 VOC white  paint from Benjamin Moore. The accent table tops would use a quartz material with grey veining. The Floating fireplace is made of recycled blackened steel that would burn bio-fuels [Gas that does not smell or smoke]. I wanted to focus on natural materials and organic textures which is why I chose to use Slatish Tiles. Slatish is a biodegradable material that is made to look like slate. I loved the rough look of the thin tile strips. The designer lamp and chair add sophistication to the space and the cow hide rug brings it back down to reality. Balance between perfection and imperfection was important because nothing in nature is perfect however, when we look at it as a whole; it appears perfect.

Material Board

The next step was to start working on the 1/4″ scale model. I rendered the floor plan that way it would be easier to read the spaces from above.

Floor Plan Rendering

  After the main floor, garden, and second story were rendered, it was time to construct the model.

House Collage

My favorite part was working on the rendering which would show off their new Living Room and the incredible views.

The pencil sketch was first – it is always important to decide where your shadows will be before you start your rendering. There is a lot to developing a rendering! Where is your light source coming from? What direction does the natural light come from? How does the light affect the room textures and furniture?

Pencil Sketch

Once you have developed your sketch and figured out what are where your light source affects the space: you can have at er and draw. *Happy Dance*

Final Rendering

In the end I was very excited with hose this project turned out. I had to deliver a detailed floor plan, mechanical plan, elevations and specifications. A material board, colour rendering, site orientation, concept statement and present it as a whole. It was a lot of work, but when your are happy with your finished product, it makes it all worth it.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”   – Luke 16:10 NLT

Guys always, always put your best into everything you do even if you do not think it’ll be worth it. It you can put your best into a small project – you will definitely put your best into a large project. If you give up on small goals, why would you go for large goals? Besides, you never know who is watching you…



– Stay Satisfied

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