Higher standard building enclosure and materials provide healthier living, lower operating costs
Jessie Smith and Stephen Pope
MHI Veterans’ House: The Andy Carswell Building is Canada’s first community housing project specifically designed for veterans. Located on the former Rockcliffe Air Base, this three-storey, 40-unit apartment building provides safe, healthy, and affordable housing for veterans. The project is part of a contemporary mixed-use community that is walkable, cycling-supportive, transit-oriented, and built at a human scale.
Twenty percent of the units and all common amenity spaces inside Veterans House are fully accessible, while the remaining suites are ‘visitable’. Partnering non-profit organizations have access to shared office space on the ground floor, enabling them to provide a variety of support services for veterans as they adjust to civilian life. Communal spaces, including a multipurpose room, a fitness room, and a shared kitchen promote community engagement and healthy living.
In preparation for this project, MHI invited Ottawa Salus Corporation and several veteran-focused groups to attend a ‘Plan of Care’ charette to discuss the design features that would best support the needs of veterans. Of particular importance was the provision of extensive landscaping to ensure residents would have easy visual and physical access to nature.
In response, the site was designed to maximize the amount of green space on the property. This has provided individual suites unobstructed views and access to abundant daylight. Walking paths and a dog run surround the building to promote a healthy lifestyle. The landscape design also includes healing, meditation, and vegetable gardens to provide a place of respite for those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who may find comfort in the solitude.
Inside the building, finishes were selected to avoid trigger colours for those suffering from PTSD. Exposed wood accents are used throughout the building, including large mass timber canopies, to evoke a sense of calm.
MHI chose to follow the Passive House standard for the design and construction of the building. Extra investment was made to achieve high levels of air tightness and thermal control of the building envelope. Ventilation air is provided by premium energy recovery ventilators, supplying continuous and balanced outdoor fresh air. Energy modeling shows that the building has a 43% energy use reduction and 57% carbon reduction relative to the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) 2015 reference model.
- Owner/Developer Multifaith Housing Initiative
- Architect CSV Architects
- General contractor McDonald Brothers Construction
- Landscape Architect Lashley & Associates
- Civil Engineer McIntosh Perry
- Mechanical/Electrical Engineer Smith & Andersen
- Structural engineer Cunliffe and Associates
- Commissioning Agent Geo-Energie
- Photos Krista Jahnke Photography, CSV Architects
The main entrance. Windows by NZP Fenestration are certified for Passive House.
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