The Crow's Nest site, a north-facing slope with incredible views of the Mahone Bay islands, presented a challenge for designing a passive solar home. The site's constraints and impressive views drove the schematic design, and a clear scheme emerged that worked with the site, sun and dramatic views simultaneously.
The building form consists of two, intersecting wedges; one south sloping, opening up to the north views, while the other, inverse wedge opens to solar south. The long, south sloping wedge, which holds the active solar array, is anchored by the rainwater cistern at its base and extends over the carport, service spaces, kitchen and loft above. The second smaller wedge is a dramatic high-ceiling area containing the living and dining rooms and the central stair connecting to the loft space.
The bedrooms, both with water view, are located in the walkout lower level. This enabled the design team to keep the project low and tucked into the landscape from the arrival side.
The main green design features include: passive solar orientation, active solar slab, solar hot water array with photovoltaiac rough in, hydronic off-peak thermal storage, rainwater collection, passive summer ventilation, and healthy/low emitting materials. Special consideration was paid to the detailing of the open staircase and how it cuts through the hydronic slab. The Solterre team designed and manufactured the unique, sturdy treads using offcuts of the same parallel strand lumber used in the building structure and stair stringers.
The playful arrangement of roof lines and interior volumes of the Crow's Nest is a testament to the careful choreography of site constraints, solar principles, local vernacular and client goals woven into a clear and elegant family home.