Tall Wood Architect Michael Green Does Short House

A renovation in North Vancouver shows a different side of the titan of timber.

Traditional exterior front

Ema Peter

Michael Green is known to Treehugger and the world for giving away the plans for building in tall mass timber almost a decade ago when it was unheard of. He built the world's largest modern mass timber building in Minneapolis. He has told Treehugger about his vision of the future where we actually grow our buildings like trees. I concluded that "Michael Green shows that we really are just getting started; we are entering a different world."

rear of house

Ema Peter

So it was surprising to learn of a house he designed that is very much of this world, A house that "combines the character and heritage of the past with the innovation and sustainability needs of the future. The owners of this North Vancouver Craftsman bungalow, originally built in 1912, envisioned a home that reflected the history of its location and of their 20 years living there as a family, while being functionally and visually inspiring and highly energy efficient."

Living room

Ema Peter

There actually doesn't seem to be much of the original craftsman house still there; it's more like there is a new house within a portion of the old shell, with a modern addition to the rear. That's how it sounds in the description:

"The existing construction was restored to preserve the heritage and materials of the house, with elements of the original structure, façade, and wood windows conserved and improved to improve efficiency. Old growth fir from the deconstructed portion of the building was repurposed to create customized millwork, furniture and a striking feature chandelier. A high-performance envelope, including triple-glazed windows, was hidden behind the heritage exterior of the north half of the house, while contemporary elements appear throughout with the south portion of the house, exemplifying dramatic, modern architectural design."
Dining table and art

Ema Peter

The house is the first in the lower mainland of British Columbia to be certified Passive House Plus, the New Coke to Passive House Classic that accommodates renewable energy such as rooftop solar. Green notes that "meeting the requirements of Passive House Plus is a challenge, and in a renovation, these challenges add another level of complexity to every aspect of the design."

exterior of rear in daytime

Ema Peter

The addition is clad in one of our favorite materials, Shou Sugi Ban wood, in this case, made of cypress wood–most of the installations we have shown have been made with cedar, where the surface is charred and then treated with linseed oil. Here's a closer look at how it is made and used.

Kitchen Island

Ema Peter

This is not a modest house, with big rooms, huge windows, and a kitchen continent (kitchen islands don't cut it anymore) but it does once again prove that going Passive House does not seriously constrict design flexibility–at least in the temperate Vancovuer climate that RDH Passive House expert Monte Paulsen has described as "the Palm Beach of Canada."

As Michael Green Architecture concludes,

"The completed home sets an example of how existing structures can be preserved and updated and serves as a benchmark for future Passive House Plus projects. Today the owners regularly invite friends and family to share and enjoy their home, a highly sustainable, functional and beautiful space that celebrates its history while looking toward the future."
Bedroom with glass all around

Ema Peter

We have followed the ups and downs of Green's career for over a decade, as he was at the forefront of pushing mass timber to new heights. It's such a pleasure to see he can also design lovely houses that meet tough standards.