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high performance building

Little Mountain Cohousing

Compact plan visually connects all building levels to shared outdoor space

By Simon Richards

Little Mountain Cohousing (LMC) is the second cohousing project to be completed in Vancouver. The project applies the well-understood principles of cohousing to a compact, medium density urban building form. The design has been developed for 25-member households, all of whom participated in the design process.

The result is a building with 14 different unit types to satisfy different needs, ranging from two-level townhouse units to apartments with one to four bedrooms. Each unit has its own generous outdoor space. As well as the individual units – and key to the cohousing model – the building contains a common house space to accommodate a range of social purposes including regular shared meals.

Other common spaces include a children’s play room, quiet lounge, visitor suite, workshop and music room. There are multiple places for casual encounter; the upper roof is developed for shared outdoor social use, children’s play, and urban gardening. The LMC residents also asked that the circulation system sustain the dynamics of community, and specifically that the shared outdoor space be visually connected to all building levels.

The design concept needed to reconcile this in a manner that also conformed to the relatively tight massing constraints and design guidelines of the Little Mountain Development Area. The resolution took the form of an ‘L’-shaped building plan with the open vertical circulation at the intersection of the two arms of the L, giving those using the stairs a view of the courtyard garden and Common House below. Each level has a small meeting area at the intersection of the horizontal and vertical circulation.

The 14 different unit types, ranging from two-level townhouse units to apartments with one to four bedrooms, have their own outdoor space, and a common room accommodates social functions. The project showcases the high performance triple-glazed wood windows and doors from Vetta Building Technologies.


  • Heating Demand  14.7 kWhr/m²/a
  • Primary Energy Demand – PER  58.2 kWhr/m²/a
  • Airtightness  0.6 ach (n50)


  • Owner/Developer  Little Mountain Cohousing Group
  • Architect & Passive House Designer  Cornerstone Architecture
  • Cohousing Consultant/Project Manager  CDC – Cohousing Development Consulting
  • Structural Engineer  London Mah & Associates Ltd.
  • Mechanical Engineer  DIALOG
  • Electrical Engineer  Nemetz (S/A) & Associates Ltd.
  • Landscape Architect  DKL
  • Building Envelope  Aqua-Coast Engineering
  • Interior Design Nielsen Design
  • Passive House Certification  RDH Building Science Inc.
  • Code Consultant/CP  Camphora
  • General Contractor  Peak Construction Croup
  • Key PH Component Specification and Supply  Small Planet Supply
  • Airtightness Testing  E3 Eco Group
  • HRV Commissioning  Dome Energy Consulting
  • Photos  Martin Knowles Photo/Media