The guest house, aptly named, Endymion, like the poem by John Keats of the same moniker is ‘a thing of joy and beauty forever’. Inspired by Greek mythology, its namesake was a handsome young man kept forever youthful through eternal sleep and deeply loved by Selene, the goddess of the moon, who visited him nightly. The home doesn’t not mimic the landscape but is inspired by it.
Set in the bucolic landscape of Prince Edward County, Ontario, the Endymion Guesthouse is inspired by nature. Situated on a woodland edge, overlooking fields of lavender and Lake Ontario, Endymion luxuriates in the landscape, offering a quiet bower for besotted guests to rest their heads in peaceful slumber.
The highly flexible building plans are based on a country family estate concept, whereby the owners live and entertain in their separate lakefront ‘great house’, while visiting family and friends use the four-bedroom, 3,600 sq.-ft. guesthouse as their private quarters. To allow the guesthouse to function flexibly, as a large single-family home or four separate family suites or any combination in between, two back-to-back kitchens positioned around the main stairwell, operating separately or as one, help to support the varied accommodations.
A new building on a four-acre greenfield site, Endymion’s construction was not entirely free from constraints.
The challenge was to position the building to incorporate Passive House standards and achieve a low carbon footprint, as the structure will rely on sun to supply most of the heating while fitting harmoniously within the existing landscape. Endymion is strategically positioned on the southward sloping site to harvest the sun’s energy and create a well draining site. A tight air seal is essential to reduce heat loss, therefore locally manufactured concrete was used for the structure, creating a hard-to-puncture air seal by untrained workers or animals alike. Its orientation, window placements, and materials are vital to its success as a low-energy house that is comfortable, healthy (infection resistant) and resilient.
Mining the unique benefits of its scenic location overlooking Lake Ontario, Endymion is efficient and simple, yet alluring in form. The result is a long, three-storey rectangular house, presenting a south facing, deeply etched, 73-ft. long wall to the sun. It accommodates one-metre-deep recessed windows carved out of the façade, with colours painted into the recesses, offering an array of negative, diverse shapes echoing the rich colour palate of the lavender gardens.
The southern façade is used for heating by the sun in the winter and for effective shading in the summer. To minimize glazing on the north side, the windows are narrow vertical slots seen from the access road through a filter of undisturbed vertical woodland trees.
Designed to Passive House standards, Endymion will use approximately 90 per cent less thermal energy than a conventional Ontario Building Code residence. With insulated walls of ICF and poured concrete, Endymion also sits on an insulated concrete slab so that the entire structure is heavily insulated.
Large format porcelain ceramic tile cladding, installed on aluminum girths, provides a ventilated façade and the flat roof provides rainwater harvesting and the option to add Photovoltaic panels as a future step. The windows and doors are triple-glazed, and the house is ventilated by two Energy Recovery Ventilators. It offers enhanced physical comfort, free from draughts and noise.
Of great significance is how the passive house design creates an infection resistant environment. Each habitable room receives dedicated, highly filtered fresh air using HEPA filters. The high-performance envelope enables optimum levels of relative humidity to be maintained, aiding greatly in the resistance of spreading airborne aerosols carrying infection.
Endymion responds to the environment, the sun, the landscape, and its occupant’s health much more sensitively than most traditionally built houses in its neighbourhood. It is designed for short stays and encourages engagement with the surrounding landscape.
Measuring 20’ x 73’ in plan, Endymion is a three level, concrete, long house with one generous room in depth with most of its triple glazed windows facing south. It sits on an air-heated, radiant ICF slab and is designed as an R43 ICF structure with large format porcelain ceramic tile cladding providing a ventilated facade.
All floors, walls and roof are concrete and heavily insulated with no thermal bridging. It is difficult to accidentally puncture the building’s complete airtight seal when it is a 12” reinforced concrete wall. The radiant air heated floor is heated by a hydronic coil from the heat pump hot water heater. Windows and doors are triple glazed, fibre glass, and the house is ventilated by two ERV systems. Earth tubes have been installed to capture additional moderating geothermal energy to temper the incoming air. Walls are typically 500mm thick.
Floors are polished concrete and all kitchen and bathroom millwork, and appliances were supplied and installed by a local hardware store.
With a small footprint, Endymion relies on the sun to supply most of the heating, therefore siting, orientation and window placements were vital to the success of this project incorporating Passive House design, the house faces due south, presenting a deeply etched 73-ft. long wall to the sun. The one-metre-deep wall accommodates recessed windows, shaded from the summer sun while they heat the house in winter months. This offers enhanced physical comfort, free from draughts and noise and achieves shading without resorting to applied sunshades. Additional heating or cooling, if, and when required, is provided by two mini-split heat pump systems and for added comfort in the winter, by two 1500w electric fireplaces.
Sustainability and environmental considerations
Set on a woodland lined site, Endymion crowns the landscape atop a newly reshaped hill, commanding the view over gardens of lavender, that are reflected within the purple and blue shaded interiors of the recessed windows. Endymion pays homage to its landscape, showing sensitivity and respect to the natural materials that envelop it.
Facing due south, Endymion is a low energy house that is comfortable, healthy (infection resistant) and resilient. Using approximately 90 per cent less thermal energy than a conventional Ontario Building Code compliant residence, Endymion relies on the sun to supply most of the heating in winter and ease of shading in summer. An efficient, yet simple form, the placement of Endymion and its 73-ft. recessed window filled wall, allows it to be easily heated and shaded by the sun when appropriate.
Natural stone excavated from the ground during construction was used to clad ancillary sheds and retaining walls and locally manufactured concrete was used for the structure. Natural woodlands exist between the house and the road therefore a curving driveway was constructed through the woodlands to avoid cutting existing trees.
Endymion is the first new-build certified passive house in Prince Edward County. To meet Passive House standards and bear the varied climate of Canada’s hot summers and cold, snowy winters, industry standard materials were used to implement passive house principles, which help to lower energy use through improved insulation, airtightness, and thermal bridge free construction. As a result, heating and cooling costs are significantly lowered.
Passive Houses are designed and built for the long term, at least 100 years. Endymion stands as a showcase of delightful design, resilient, healthy, and comfortable architecture, acting as a catalyst to inspire other residents and communities to look towards Passive House and health in the future. OD
Project Team: Jonathan Kearns, Lead Design Architect | Rick Sealey, Architectural Technologist | Kelly Fisher, PH & Energy Modelling Specialist | Natalie Krakovsky, Intern Architect | Esther Van Eeden
Photos: Tom Rideout, Industryous Photography
Subconsultants: Integral Engineering, Mechanical and Electrical Engineer | Bonwest Limited, Building Contractor | Green Giant Design and Build, Energy Recovery Ventilation | Ksander & Associates, Structural Engineer for Concrete Shell | Foxblocks & Legalett Canada Inc., ICF Floors and Walls | H.S.P Consultants Inc., Structural Engineer for Cladding | StoneTile, Laminam Cladding Supplier | Fabritek, Laminam Cladding Contractor | Robin Wall, Landscape Architect/Designer
Awards and Accolades: ICF – The Builder Awards (2022) | Legalett – Construction Pioneer Award (2022) | Legalett – Passive House Project Ontario - Large Residential (2022)