Certified Passive House Designer



Jim Kerr

In 2014 Jim established his own practice, James Kerr Architect, based in Victoria BC to provide hands-on design services with a focus on single family residences and small scale projects. As a sole practitioner, a deeper engagement of each client and project from design thru construction is more readily achieved and with more meaningful results.

Jim's interest in buildings started early while making driftwood forts on BC's west coast, touring construction sites with his city planner father and working summers as a carpenter framing houses. Jim studied architecture at the University of Oregon, became a registered architect in British Columbia in 1988 and honed his skills over thirty years at design oriented firms including Henriquez & Partners in Vancouver and Merrick Architecture in Victoria. Project work during this period included urban mixed use developments, non-profit housing, heritage building rehabilitation, residential care facilities, schools and libraries.

Jim is active in the Victoria design community and currently serves on the City of Victoria's Heritage Advisory Panel. He is an avid swimmer, crossword puzzle-er and struggling guitarist who lives with his wife Barbara in their 1913 Fernwood house.


With each client-project, the firm is committed to applying the "Five P" principles, namely Professionalism, Passion, Persistence, Politeness and Patience. Particular attention is placed on clear communication with the client, design team members and builder in order to enable informed decision making and move each project forward to a successful outcome.

Design Approach


Good design can uplift the human spirit thru the making of special places where people can better engage themselves, each other and the natural world.

The firm takes a balanced approach to design incorporating the 3 essential elements of good building identified by the 1st century AD Roman architect Vitruvius, namely "firmness, commodity and delight". Firmness refers to a building's structural integrity plus its ability to weather well and endure. Utility refers to an efficient arrangement of spaces and building services that provide comfort and support the lives of the occupants. Delight or venustas, the aesthetic quality associated with the Roman goddess Venus, imparts beauty and good proportions.

Each project involves a search for an appropriate architectural expression rather than the imposition of a pre-determined style. This search considers the client's aspirations and budget, site opportunities (topography, orientation, vegetation, light and sun exposure), context (urban or suburban or rural), structural systems and materials as well as regulatory constraints. In the case of an addition or renovation, the character defining elements of the existing building-landscape are carefully identified and evaluated so that new work can be made complementary.

Sustainable Design


Good design today should strive to lighten our footprint on Earth and its finite resources. This approach requires us in North America to be more modest in the spatial and material demands made of new buildings than in recent decades. The European practice of building energy efficient smaller homes with generous natural light, durable materials and window-door components should inspire us to build better.

Where practical, natural or passive systems for heating, cooling and ventilation should be favoured to provide greater comfort and consume less energy. The use of on-site energy generation such as photovoltaic cells should be considered but only after the embodied energy and long term maintenance requirements for the system components are fully understood. Selecting materials and components with less embodied energy and/or more recycled content, reducing water usage and construction waste are helpful strategies. The integration of these and other sustainability measures is a key principle of this practice.

As a Certified Passive House Designer, Jim also provides design and planning services to meet the International Passive House Institute standard, one of the world's foremost benchmarks for energy efficient and sustainable building design created in Germany in 1992. For more information please visit Passive House Canada or the International Passive House Institute.