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Student Design Showcase – Abbeyfield House

November 5, 2015


Abbeyfield House is a seniors’ residence, designed for communities across Canada. Established in 1955 in Britain, it is a place where seniors can live independently, but still have support and social contact. Occupants rent a bed-sitting room, where they can bring their own furniture and personal effects. Shared facilities include a living room, dining room, kitchen, activity room and storage areas. A housekeeper prepares meals. Abbeyfield currently has 23 houses in Canada. Our design contains 12 occupant apartments and two staff apartments. The house is focused on modular construction, and each apartment is constructed with single and half modules. The building can adapt to various geographical locations and sites.


• Zhaoyu Chen
• Ramiz Momin
• Wenzhi Tan


• Modular construction for individual suites with panelized construction for public areas.
• L-shaped floor plan with common areas bordered by individual suites.
• Large living and dining area that face southwest to collect maximum solar heat gain in the winter and allow maximum natural lighting for the interior space.
• Second-level reading/activity room and roof terrace.
• Basement entertainment room and medical room.
• Bay windows in suites to maximize views and living space.
• Use of energy modeling for building performance analysis.
• High levels of insulation and airtightness to reduce the heating and cooling loads.
• High-efficiency windows to reduce energy loss through openings.
• Solar panels and high efficiency HVAC system to reduce energy use and operating costs.


Our team concentrated on the convenience of the building and the application of passive design. As Abbeyfield is a seniors’ housing project, we paid special attention to the people and created our design to better suit their needs.

In this project, our team learned about specific products that could provide better comfort and healthy living. We also learned about the different types of prefabrication. In our design, we selected both modular and panelized construction for this project. One of the best experiences was a visit to the Abbeyfield House in Ottawa. We got a chance to talk to the manager and residents there to have a better understanding of their needs and concerns. The other visit we made was to a prefabricated housing manufacturer (Guildcrest Homes). We gained a full understanding of the prefabrication process for modular construction.

We used energy-modeling programs to assist us to improve the passive and active aspects of the building design.

For our prefabricated design, we separated the public and private spaces. For the individual suites, we proposed modular construction. We used three 3.5 m x 7 m modules for every two suites. All of the plumbing and major utility lines are installed in one module. All of the public spaces such as living and dining rooms were designed to use panelized construction as these spaces are generally bigger and more difficult to construct in modules.