Hennessy House

Wolfville, NS

This house balances a dualistic program, composes and frames views, and takes advantage of a number of low impact, high return environmental strategies within a clean, inviting, timeless, and economical design. This is an easygoing and relaxed answer to a busy family’s requirements for a calm clan space for them to be together in.

Extra insulation, sensitive siting, and conscientious planning of the interior work together to maximize the ability for the house to be eco-friendly. After developing a parti that incorporated four existing mature trees in the siting of the house, computer modeling refined the initial moves to subtly maximize solar gain in the winter and shade in the summer, helping shape roof trusses and overhangs. The south wall of the house is significantly more glazed than the north, with exposed thermal mass and utilization of the roof truss shape providing passive solar and ventilation opportunities.

On the ground floor, large windows are oriented to an outdoor living space, situated between a row of mature trees and the house. This sheltered south facing space mirrors the more public interior spaces on the south side of the floor plan: dining, living, and kitchen. The relationship is direct and immediate, and the family and its guests are not fully aware of the pond just above view. The welcoming open plan and interconnected levels are counterpoint to its intimate spaces.

On the second floor, selective openings on the north side of the house capture distant views of Cape Blomidon and the Valley. Large windows on the south side capture views of the pond, ringed with weeping willows whose branches bend to touch the water – views which are not available from the main floor, and which are framed as art, developing a different relationship with the surrounding landscape than is available from the more public spaces of the house.

Photography: Deborah Nicholson.

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