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Eco Designer of the Year 2010: Cedric Burgers

Conservation is paramount in architect Cedric Burgers’s elegantly designed homes—but it isn’t just about turning off the taps. 

Get into the nuts and bolts of what makes a home “green,” and it’s not so sexy. There’s the surface stuff that looks pretty in pictures: low-VOC paint, formaldehyde-free cabinets, solar panels. But it’s the big-picture stuff—heating and cooling systems, water conservation—that’s the measure of a place.

In the dozen or so years that he’s been practising, Vancouver architect Cedric Burgers has mastered the art of taking that unsexy side of green design and incorporating it into his elegant buildings. (As judge Shelley Penner notes, “The planning is exceptional, with a flow of spaces that optimizes daylight and views, while creating a seamless relationship to the landscape.”) Even routine commercial projects, like the Freybe Gourmet Foods factory, are given a green spin under his hand. Burgers and his landscape architect, Stacey Moriarty, designed ponds filled with plants that filter toxins like mercury out of water run-off from the staff parking lot, allowing purified water to travel toward local salmon-bearing streams instead of rushing out to the ocean. 

The project kick-started a new passion for water conservation in all of Burgers’s residential projects, many that capitalize on Vancouver’s rainy season to hydrate their homeowners year-round. One Burgers-designed home in West Vancouver is completely off the city’s water grid, all thanks to its clever roof: designed to work like an inverted umbrella, it filters rain down through a waterfall-like structure, directed into a cistern buried under the patio. Multiple filter systems scrub the rainwater clean, and out it flows—purer than city water—from the homeowner’s taps.

For Burgers, it has always been about water. “We’re a powerboat society right now,” he explains. “But we have to switch that to a sailboat mentality. A craft that is elegant, with a sense of purpose to it—and something that’s incredibly efficient. The building of the future will collect its own water, grow its own food and produce its own electricity and heat. My ambition is to build houses that are exciting and easy to use, but follow the model of the sailboat.” 

Cedric Burgers
Architect Cedric Burgers, whose designs often feature rainwater filtration systems (right).

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