Rachel Ross: 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. Myself, my husband Lars, and our 15 year old daughter, Poppy, designed our house using Slow Home principles for building houses that are healthy, designed to exactly fit the inhabitants and are gentle on the environment. The design was ‘slow’ but the construction process was quick because we pre-fab built the wall panels off-site with the insulation, doors, windows and siding included. Prefab-ulous!
Some glowing benefits of prefab are a lower environmental impact on the site and less construction waste. It goes up fast, and a speed build to weather-tight means that no valuable building materials were adversely affected by rain and snow — which happens in many places, but especially in Canada through the winter. We started pouring the concrete for the ICF foundation in the fall of 2011 and we moved in 150 days later.
This is the first ENERGY STAR Qualified home in B.C., which means that it uses 30% less energy to function as an incredibly comfortable living space. In addition to a passive solar design — 10” thick walls and “tuned” windows — it’s wrapped in a 3” blanket of Roxul Rock Wool. It has a continuous air-sealed envelope that includes the insulated doors and Low E 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 the household temperature at 20 degrees C (68 F) and when we rise in the morning the household temperature is 19 degrees C (66 F).
The house is also a round home, meaning that it literally “embraces” the human beings who reside within it. Lars has been building round homes since 2000 and this home is his culminating dream home. Every aspect is designed to perfectly match the needs of our family.
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 nature.”
We recently spoke with a beekeeper who reported that her group was experimenting with round shaped bee hives (as compared to the conventional rectangular beehives), she said that the bees in the round hives were less aggressive, more healthy and produced more honey than the same variety of bees in rectangular hives. Just like the bees, we experience greater harmony, more creativity and more flow by living in our round home. And, we love the fact that the natural thermal dynamics of a round space contribute to the overall energy efficiency of the space.