Sandra Rohler: Little Mountain Cohousing

0309phactt video

Our guest at Construction Tech last week was one of the most esteemed Passive House practitioners anywhere: Sandra Rohler. Apart from being a Passive House designer and project manager at Cornerstone Architecture in Vancouver, as well as a registered architect in Germany who has been working on Passive House projects since 2001, Sandra is also a Passive House Institute certified designer and tradesperson, LEED AP, a cofounder of Passive House Canada, and an instructor for Passive House Canada and the British Columbia Institute of Technology. She is even a certified cabinet and furniture maker. When she had the time to accomplish all of this is anyone’s guess.

Sandra’s presentation was based on the Little Mountain Cohousing project, which is located east of Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver. At its most basic, cohousing is a kind of intentional community where a group of owners cluster their private homes around a shared space. When the project is a multifamily building, as is the case with Little Mountain, the owners pool their resources together, develop the project, make suggestions/requests/demands during the design process, and then have a claim to one apartment each. This model is certainly appealing for owners who want to live within a multifamily environment and have a say as to the layout of their own suites, as well as the design of the building overall. In the case of Little Mountain, the 25 suites included 13 unique layouts, building amenity spaces, common workspaces, exterior pathways on each floor, and a courtyard.

No surprise, the 13 unique layouts posed significant design challenges to the team, but Sandra claimed that one of the most daunting issues for the project was the building’s area-to-volume ratio. In the video below, Sandra goes over some of the solutions that she and her team proposed to overcome these hurdles while going over design details of wall assembly and more.

Spoiler alert: Sandra ultimately passed her blower door test (about an hour before the presentation)

Author: Jay Fox