Great Gulf Active House, Canada

Canadian nature is just as beautiful as it is rough. A house must be adapted to these conditions − when done successfully, the result is both comfortable and sustainable.


 More daylight, more well-being

Characterised by a modernist architectural expression and a design that reduces maintenance and operating costs, the Great Gulf Active House was conceived for human comfort and well-being from the inside out. The design process was guided by the principle of how natural daylight can improve our daily lives through an immersive experience.

The Great Gulf Active House is defined first and foremost by its strategic use of natural daylight, which is known to significantly benefit our well-being; it boosts our concentration, efficiency and mood. The abundance of natural light also means that little or no artificial lighting is required during the day.

The design team used daylighting evaluation studies to model all areas and ensure that every space receives sufficient natural daylight, enabling the architects to select the most efficient sizes and most effective locations for the skylights. The results are dramatic. The architects were able to maximise both direct and indirect light, while an open-floor plan and railing protection in glass help spread daylight throughout the building.

We might live indoors most of the time but human beings still long for the light, the air and the openness of the outdoors. We’re made this way. Sunshine, fresh air and beautiful spaces have a measurable effect on our bodies and minds,"

says Tad Putyra, CEO of Great Gulf Homes, Low-Rise Division.

The removal of visual barriers between living spaces helped create the impression of a home much larger than its true 3,200 square feet. The open-floor plan is based on two intersecting axes that maximise cross-breezes and natural ventilation, thereby minimising reliance on air conditioning.

Solar collectors installed on the south zone facade contribute to the production of domestic hot water, while a cistern and rainwater-collection system reduces the need for municipal water for sprinkling the lawn and in the low-flush toilets.

As the team hoped, many of the concepts found in the demo home have already been implemented in several other Great Gulf low-rise homes.

Photos: Torben Eskerod

Electric "Fresh Air" skylights

Designed for both deck and curb mount installations, the VELUX Electric "Fresh Air" skylight is the perfect daylighting solution for overhead applications. It allows for abundant natural light, and with the touch of a button, opens to let in fresh air. And if you forget to close it, a rain sensor will shut the skylight during inclement weather.