Eagleyew a family home in Vancouver Island, Canada is designed by Kata Polano – a natural builder and designer. The 2400 sq ft, three-story house is built primarily of natural materials. With a robust timber frame, stave and light clay infill walls, an Annualized Geo Solar (AGS) system, masonry stove, earthen floors and even living roof, this home is truly leading the way in building sustainably.
Clay has been used to cleanse the body of toxins for years. The properties of clay acting much like a sponge and filter also allow it to breathe toxins from the air, cleansing the air and creating an ideal indoor air quality. No wonder, it is easier to breathe within walls made largely of clay and natural material.
What’s more, clay based walls perform extremely well when it comes to absorbing and pulling excess moisture away from mould vulnerable areas. The hygroscopic qualities of clay not only enable clay to absorb vapours from the air, but also enable these vapours to be absorbed at a fairly fast rate, quickly regulating the relative humidity in the built-up space. Clay also has a stronger capillary draw than timber, enabling the clay walls to draw any moisture out and away from the adjoining timber frame, which, in turn, helps avoid microbial growths.
The same advantages of clay as a building material were employed in Eagleyew house where clay walls regulate humidity levels to not only create comfortable indoor air quality but also help avoid the development of mould. However, when, even slightly hydrated, clay can get negatively charged causing the sponge effect to kick in attracting and capturing positive ions and electromagnetic currents. These positive ions in turn create free radicals, which can lead to vulnerability towards illness and disease. Counteracting this advantage is the clever use of woodchip infill which prevents electromagnetic currents to circulate outside the house as well as inside.
The home built in the moderate climate of Vancouver encompasses both active and passive solar energy which includes wood heating, the earthen walls & floor and AGS heating and cooling system to help maintain a stable temperature. All of these elements work together to provide a home that requires minimal input to maintain a comfortable indoor air temperature and incredible air quality, meaning fewer bills and a healthier home for the residents.
Woodchip clay infill walls
The structure 12-inch thick woodchip clay infill walls are made of mix of clay covered wood shavings which offer an efficient balance between insulation and thermal mass. These walls are also the key factor in the high performance levels experienced from the other design elements. Also, the ability of clay to allow water vapours to be absorbed and released helps maintain a constant humidity index, which keeps the indoor humidity levels comfortable. While the thermal mass of the walls and floors provides the perfect storage for slow-releasing heat, the masonry stove gives a boost of heat whenever needed and the solarium provides a warm, bright, and cozy ambience. All these systems together create an extremely comfortable indoor temperature with minimal human input.
The three solar panels on the roof supported on the AGS system supply hot water for household use. A heat exchanger with hot glycol captures the heat from the sun and transfers it to the water in the boiler. Once heated, the water is pumped into the tubing at the center of the house, 6 feet underground. The heat from this tubing radiates out and up, slowly spreading across the entire floor area. The best part about this is that the heat moves through the floor at a rate in which heat captured in the summer is released and enjoyed during the winter.
The European style masonry stove is fired up when residents require extra heat depending upon the weather. The large thermal mass of the masonry stove acts as great battery in which to store the heat created. This heat radiates out from the mass evenly and slowly, keeping the air temperature of the entire home at a comfortable and stable level. The stove fired once a day offers heat effects till 18 to 24 hours. Masonry stoves are also healthier for the environment as it creates less air pollution from burning.
One of the most obvious benefits of living roof in this home is the insulation factor which keeps the interiors at a stable temperature. Plants and soil apart from being great insulators also filter rainwater. When the water falls on the roof, it’s funneled off into storm water drains collecting pollution along the way. The filtered clean water is then ready for reuse by the residents.