Our team recently took part in the Kitchener backyard homes design competition and we would love to present our final design to you! The brief was to design a residential backyard suite on a lot in Kitchener, that was inspired by realistic landscape while adhering to all the zoning requirements the city has established. 

After every team member was introduced to the brief of the project – and had received their fuel from a local sandwich place – we started drawing up ideas. At first each team member individually, and after we all shared our sketches and ideas we opened up a broad discussion which led us to the key points that we wanted to focus on within the design. We came up with three important pillars that should influence every design decision around the project. The home had to be accessible/affordable, energy efficient, and sustainable. 

Besides the design itself, we also had to come up with a story behind the home and the occupant. Our design named the Green Accessible Granny ADU – or for short GAGA – is designed to be a beautiful backyard home for Eva’s mother, Georgina, to gracefully grow old in alongside her loving family. It will be a fully accessible suite to allow Georgina to live independently. As affordability is top-of-mind for Eva, we have designed this green building to be a Net-Zero home with very low monthly bills. The high efficiency Air Source Heat Pump provides carbon-free cooling and heating that won’t be subject to the increasing carbon charge for long term affordability.

In addition to the passive shading, super insulated walls & roof, and triple glazed windows, the GAGA features a healthy indoor environment with zero VOC materials and an ERV to ensure fresh, filtered air in the house year-round.

The GAGA is a ‘forever’ home with built-in flexibility. A sleeping loft can provide an extra bedroom, home office, play space, or storage – depending on Eva’s changing needs. Looking long term, this home also provides additional versatility for future homeowners in case they want to generate some passive income. The additional loft space would allow small families to live here, making it more affordable and better suited for our community.

The winners will be announced later this fall, so stay tuned for the results! The link to the competition can be found here

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