Passive House and LEED Platinum certified; the Saltbox House is only the third certified passive building in Quebec. Built on the south side of Mont Gale in Bromont, the single-family house sits in a meadow, on the edge of the protected forest area of a 2.5 acres land.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2022
Third Award | Private Residence (Large) (Built)

Project Name: Saltbox Passive House
Studio Name: L’Abri
Design Team: Francis M Labrecque, Jérôme Codère, Vincent Pasquier,  Antoine Mathys
Area: 3100 sq ft
Year: 2020
Location:  Bromont, Québec, Canada
Consultants: PHIUS consultant: Sarah Cobb
Photography Credits: Raphaël Thibodeau
Other Credits:

  • Contractor: Construction Rocket
  • Collaborators : Écohabitation
©Raphaël Thibodeau

A building anchored in its environment

The natural character of the site and the built heritage of the region led to revisit an historic architectural language. With its “L” shaped plan combining two types of roof slopes, the house borrows its vernacular silhouette from the architectural vocabulary of 17th century Saltbox rural buildings, which appeared in New England and are still prominent in the Eastern Townships countryside. With its gable roof on the main section, and a single-pitch roof on the lower section, this typology takes its name from lid-boxes in which salt was once kept on top of the fireplace, away from moisture. The high-performance house, built with a double frame and south-facing orientation, offers exceptional living comfort to its inhabitants, whatever the season.

Saltbox Passive House  L'Abri - Sheet1
©Raphaël Thibodeau

A simple, bright house


The house plan promotes passive solar heating and panoramic views of the valley. The three-story tiered construction, carved into the mountain, minimizes the retaining walls visible from the road. By building carving in the rear of the house and opting for a roof slope that follows that of the land, the house adapts gently to the topography of the site. Its presence remains discreet from the street, revealing its true program only to visitors who take the path to the entrance of the house. The third level with the garage that also serves as a workshop is only visible on the final approach. The building materials are simple and durable: the retaining walls are constructed of excavated stone, the cladding is wood and the entrance section is burnt cedar. The grey steel roof is discreet and timeless.

Saltbox Passive House  L'Abri - Sheet2
©Raphaël Thibodeau

An architecture for the future

Energy efficiency, comfort and durability principles have guided the design and the team of professionals. Design choices such as a highly insulated and airtight envelope, superior heat recovery from the mechanical ventilation system, and a building orientation and apertures design that maximizes solar radiation are not directly visible in the architecture but are essential to promote in the context of climate change.

Saltbox Passive House  L'Abri - Sheet4
©Raphaël Thibodeau

Design decisions were validated by energy modeling, which informed the choice of double framing for the insulation of the above-ground walls and the choice of passive triple glazed windows. In addition to the PH standard and Leed Platinum certification, we also significantly reduced the carbon footprint of the building by carefully choosing materials, such as wood siding and cellulose thermal insulation. Therefore, the project demonstrates that it is possible to build ambitious designs with high energy standards at a reasonable budget. Built to stand for generations to come, the Saltbox Passive House aims to show that we can aspire today for better homes and buildings that will have a real and positive impact on our environment.