MARTaK Passive House

MARTaK Passive House is set in the Colorado Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 6800 feet. The small off grid residence is the first certified international Passive House in Colorado and is built without foam products or other energy intensive materials. Rather than design program around use the floor plan as open as possible. The space can adapt to large gatherings or intimate stays. Inspired by small contemporary Japanese architecture visual cues such as the asymmetric rising ceiling, simplified materials palate, and open volume provide a sense of spaciousness in a 1275 sqr foot treated living area.

Interior finish materiality is restricted to FSC plywood, cedar, tile, and plasterboard to emphasize light and space. A space saving staircase made from plywood boxes visually anchors the elongated living area. The second floor is supported by vertical and horizontal nail-laminated timbers. The upper story space is acoustically connected to the main level via a net bed. This also provides a light well to reduce what could be a cramped interior.

A wedge shape footprint improves solar exposure to the south and preserves three mature Ponderosa Pine trees adjacent to the building. The trees maintain the local habitat and provide critical shade in summer and early fall. The massing of the project is informed by local mountain formations called Hogbacks which have a steep uniform slope often with a ridge of boulders.

The east side, featuring an outdoor room, is reminiscent of a cabin which is reinforced by the wood exterior composed of board and baton and cedar picket siding. To reduce embodied energy and improve life cycle potential the envelope uses no foam products, relaying on mineral wool and cellulose for insulation, and studs and plywood for structure and the air barrier. Other material choices abide by cradle to cradle methodologies. The exterior wall cavity is covered with mineral wool board and fiber cement siding. In addition the steel roof and tempered triple pane windows provides fire resilience.

Energy efficiency: The home is calculated to consume 1.41 kBTU per square foot per year for heating, approximately 1/3 of the Passive House threshold of 4.75 kBTU/yr/sqft. In practical terms the house uses its heating system only a few times during winter and early spring. The heat recovery ventilation is 95% efficient with support from an earth tube. The earth tube also provides cooling in the summer and early fall. Electrical is shared with another house utilizing a 2.5kw solar array and 5kw Nickel Iron Battery.

Notable features: The upper story and office is formed by a nail-lam wall and floor/ceiling made with 2×4 cedar. The technique provides a thin floor plate and break and softens the interior volume. Building egress with an open level floor plan utilizes universal design principles. The staircase is inspired by Japanese kaidan dansu cabinetry. Unfixed boxes can be stored for shelving or removed for impromptu furniture. An upper story net bed connects the upper lever to the lower and provide natural light to upper bedroom. Kids are magnetized to the space likened to being in a club house.

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