With no other means of heating or cooling than those generated by the structure, the home of Peter Johannknecht and Sharon Stoose-Johannknecht, is the first of its kind to be built in Oak Bay. Meeting the rigorous passive home standards, the 3000 square foot, four bedroom home was designed by Peter Johannknecht, principal architect at his firm Cascadia Architects, as an architectural approach to battling climate change. The big misconception is that passive homes have to employ a particular aesthetic to achieve these peak energy efficiency goals, but that’s not the case; this two-story architectural landmark is modern in form with a warm European feel. Built by NZ Builders, the home represents a masterful combination of design, craft, and technology.
Upon approach, you would never know that this serene dwelling, with its midnight blue, rough-sawn cedar façade, is continuously working hard for its inhabitants. Its high performance is a function of its design and currently in the comprehensive process of being certified by the Passivhaus Institut in Germany.
Originating in Germany 30 years ago, passive construction is an international standard for peak energy efficiency that is so airtight and well insulated that a building can function comfortably without a conventional heating system. Key components of this passive house include triple-pane windows, an air-tight membrane surrounding the house, no thermal bridges that allow heat to escape, an insulation envelope surrounding the entire house, and efficient ventilation.
Ideal in Victoria, where excess moisture is an ongoing issue, the Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) system is the most important aspect of this passive home, supplying continuous fresh air from outside. Air intakes are installed in the rooms that generate the most heat and humidity — kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room. Air is drawn in through the HRV where it’s stripped of its heat and transferred outside. The heat is then mixed with incoming fresh air from outside and distributed throughout the house, providing a steady supply of fresh, filtered air to every room.
A passive home is a green architectural approach to the future without the inaccessible, futuristic aesthetic. The interior possesses a welcoming feel with seamless continuity of architectural materials throughout, starting with six-inch slabs of concrete flooring on the entire main level that serves as a temperature regulator. Eight-foot doors throughout the home provide a sense of space while the windows in the double-height living room, with upper floor mezzanine, let in an abundance of natural light.
At first glance, the airy white kitchen is understated but take a closer look to see the hardworking custom cabinetry with specialty inserts by Splinters Millworks and an eat-in island with a utilitarian walnut top. Concealed appliances preserve the clean lines of the home while wow-factors are incorporated in the material selections, like the unique porcelain countertop that’s both functional (you can cut on it and wipe away red wine) and beautiful. An induction cooktop and wall oven with warming drawer keep this kitchen practical for cooking and entertaining.
Walnut accents offset the cool concrete adding warmth on doors, shelving, and in the kitchen and bathrooms. All three bathrooms boast a sense of flow with recessed lighting, curbless showers, entire walls of scratched ceramic tile, and floating toilets and cabinets. The maximized energy efficiency is rivaled by the interior’s flawless sense of detail and balance. There’s an unparalleled sense of calm in the layout that is strengthened by the perfectly aligned power outlets, light switches, recessed lighting, and floating vanities that are balanced equally along grout lines.
By hitting the energy targets of Passive House certification, this dwelling can eliminate the costs of a conventional heating system and provide consistent thermal comfort, soundproofing, and high quality filtered air that is not only sustainable for the homeowners but the larger community.
- Architect/Design: Peter Johannknecht, Cascadia Architects
- Interior Design: Peter Johannknecht, Cascadia Architects
- Contractor/Interior Finishing: NZ Builders
- Cabinetry/Millwork: Splinters Millworks
- Flooring and Tiles: Island Floor Centre
- Concrete Floor: Butler Bros. Supplies Ltd.
- Doors: McGregor & Thompson Hardware Ltd.
- Windows: Optiwin
- Lighting: CDM2 Lightworks, Gabriel Ross
- Kitchen and Bath Fixtures: Victoria Specialty Hardware, Wetstyle
- Appliances: Coast Appliances (Miele)
- Corten Steel Fireplace/Forging: Jake James Blacksmith
- HRV System: Small Planet Supply Canada
- Exterior Roller Shade: Pacific Rollshutters
- Exterior Siding: H&R Exterior Finish Ltd.
- Landscaping: Murdoch De Greeff, Vista Landscaping, Demitasse Garden Centre