Meet our house, the Magnolia 2300. It's a three bedroom, round, passive solar home located in the lush green forest of Nelson, B.C. Canada. My husband and I, along with our 15 year old daughter, Poppy, designed the house using Slow Home principles for building houses that are healthy and designed with both the inhabitants and direct environment in mind. The design was 'slow' but the construction process was very quick because we pre-fabricated the wall panels off-site along with the insulation, doors, windows and siding. Prefab-ulous!
Some glowing benefits of prefab include a lower environmental impact on-site and a reduction in construction waste. It went up quickly, thus making it weather-tight and meaning that no valuable building materials were adversely affected by rain and snow — which does happen in many places, especially in Canada during the winter. We began pouring concrete for the foundations in the fall of 2011 and moved in 150 days later.
This is the first ENERGY STAR Qualified home in B.C., which means that it uses 30% less energy while remaining functional and comfortable. In addition to its passive solar design — 10” thick walls and 'tuned' windows — it is wrapped in a 3” blanket of Roxul Rock Wool, providing an air-sealed envelope effect despite the presence of doors and windows. The walls are an R34 and the ceiling is a whopping R66. The whole house has an EnerGuide rating of 84. This means that our family can head to bed on a winter’s evening with a household temperature of 20 degrees C (68 F). By the time we rise in the morning the household temperature remains a warm 19 degrees C (66 F).
Round Homes - "A Way of Living More Closely With Nature"
My husband, Lars has been building round homes since 2000 and every aspect of this home has been designed to perfectly match the needs of our family. The house was also built 'in the round,' meaning that it literally 'embraces' the people residing within it. Why round? As Lars says, “Living in the round is a way of living more closely with nature. Everything around us is round - the moon, the earth, eggs in a nest, the trunks of trees. As a lifelong nature enthusiast, I want my home to connect me with nature, not separate me from it.”
We recently spoke to a beekeeper who told us her group was experimenting with round shaped bee hives (as compared to the conventional rectangular beehive). She said the bees in the round hives were less aggressive, healthier and produced more honey than the same variety of bees in rectangular hives. Just like the bees, we have experienced greater harmony and increased creativity while living in our round home. We also love the fact that the natural thermal dynamics of a round space contribute to the overall energy efficiency of the home.
Healthy Materials make for a Low Impact, Sustainable Build
The House aroma's are also healthy, seeping from the beeswax, non-toxic Yolo milk paint and soycrete stain, instead of conventional toxic paints and varnishes. The floors are made from non-formaldahyde floating cork which is neutral in temperature and astonishingly springy. The cork on the kitchen floor is also finished with a ceramic design to naturally protect it from potential moisture.
The countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms are patterned bamboo with a beeswax protective finish. The wood used for the timberframe detailing is locally sourced fir and the wide stair planks are crafted from salvaged wood. Furthermore no living trees were cut down to create the space to build this house, there was an already present round opening in the forest of grand fir trees that perfectly fitted the 31’ diameter round center with 12’ wide radiating wings of the Magnolia design.
Art and Style Meets Permaculture Design
The home also emanates artistic style — wandering around the house, you will notice details such as the Japanese Spirit Post in the living room, the inlaid pebble stream in the entryway, a custom Bamboo marquetry door, Shoji doors throughout, curved hallways and stairwells, handmade handrail brackets, niche-like window seats, Italian Porcelain in the ensuite spa, and a kitchen deck with a 300 hundred year old Ponderosa Pine tree growing through it.
It’s one of four round buildings on our 1.5 acre property, which includes a round studio, a round garage, and a round greenhouse. For us, this is an ongoing project that promises to keep many more round, energy efficient structures popping up for years to come!
This article originally appeared on Inhabitat Online. Read Rachel's 'How to Build a Gypsy Caravan from Recycled Materials' – one of our most popular articles ever!
For more great Woodland Home inspiration, take a look at some of our books on green-shopping.co.uk. Great places to start are Shelter, Home Work and Builders of the Pacific Coast by Lloyd Khan or have a look at Ben Law's The Woodland House and Roundwood Timber Framing.
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