On the rocks: Omar Gandhi designs a new house for the Canadian countryside

Exterior view of Float House in the evening with the lights on. The house sits on a rocky and grassy terrain
Bounded by rocky terrain, a hilltop clearing presiding over the landscape provides the perfect setting for Float House by Halifax architect Omar Gandhi
(Image credit: Doublespace)

In Nova Scotia, bold architecture tends to cluster along the water. The Atlantic Ocean, which long provided sustenance for this region of Canada, now offers a wealth of views. A new project by the Halifax architect Omar Gandhi (opens in new tab), dubbed Float House, takes another point of view, finding the sublime in a rough corner of the landscape and reflecting it back in a set of stunning sculptural forms.

View of the ground level floor plans for Float House

(Image credit: Doublespace)

The 232 sq m building is located 'off the beaten path,' Gandhi says - half a kilometre inland, in a jagged zone of glacial hills and valleys. Gandhi helped the client Dr. Melanie Kelly select the site, a hilltop clearing which is bracketed by a brawny outcrop of rock. That natural form 'is the most miraculous thing,' Gandhi recalls. 'It seemed the perfect anchor for a house.'

Where local architects often draw on the vernacular tradition of maritime wooden sheds, Gandhi’s office has twisted this into an unfamiliar shape: the house is a string of four wood-clad forms, but they have been rotated and eroded at the top edges to form jagged, boulder-like volumes. (The word 'float' is a geological term for loose pieces of rock.)  At one end are Dr. Kelly’s living, dining and bedroom areas; in the middle, two guest bedrooms which houses visits from her grown children; and at the other end, a garage wrapped in a screen of pale spruce siding. This wood, black aluminum windows and a grey metal roof complete the material palette, which blends closely with the topography.

And yet the house - built inexpensively by local contractors - is rich with different spatial experiences. The dining area comes within a few metres of a sheer rock face, which is revealed through large windows. Steps away, the living room looks out over a series of lakes - and the ocean, seen from an angle off in the distance.

Close up exterior view of Float House during the day. The house features horizontal wood panels and tall windows in a dark coloured frame and sits on a rocky and grassy terrain

A play on the vernacular tradition of maritime sheds, four timber clad elements are rotated and manipulated to form jagged boulder-like volumes

(Image credit: Doublespace)

Interior view of the bathroom at Float House featuring white walls, grey tile flooring, a window, a white freestanding bath and a tiled shower with glass panels

The muted tones of the interior play audience to an outlook of glacial formations

(Image credit: Doublespace)

Interior view of the wooden garage at Float House. There is a black motorcycle sitting on the dark coloured flooring

The striking garage interior is wrapped in a screen of pale spruce cladding

(Image credit: Doublespace)

Interior view of the dining area at Float House featuring a white ceiling and walls, sphere pendant lighting. tall windows and doors, a white rectangle dining table and wooden chairs

Metres from a sheer rock face, the glazed walls of the dining room give the impression of being immersed in the landscape

(Image credit: Doublespace)

Alternative exterior view of Float House with the lights on in the evening

Dubbed Float House due to the geographical term ’float’ meaning loose pieces of rock, the sculptural volumes were conceived as a reflection of the sublime natural surroundings

(Image credit: Doublespace)

Alternative exterior view of Float House with the lights and surrounding greenery in the evening

Sensitive to the topography, the volumes are clad in pale spruce with black aluminium glazing and grey metal roofing

(Image credit: Doublespace)

Interior view of the kitchen area at Float House featuring a white sloped ceiling, white walls, grey flooring, spotlights, a sphere pendant light, a wooden and orange kitchen unit with a dark coloured splashback, silver appliances, a wooden and white island with a sink, a wooden stool and glass doors leading to the outside area

High-level clerestory glazing encourages daylight into the bright and spacious interior, with sloping ceilings framing the view

(Image credit: Doublespace)

Exterior view of Float House under a blue, cloudy sky from a distance. The house features horizontal wood panels and tall windows in a dark coloured frame and sits on a rocky and grassy terrain

On plan, a volume containing two guest bedrooms is flanked by the house’s living, dining and bedroom areas, and the pale spruce-clad garage

(Image credit: Doublespace)

Two side-by-side photos of the interior of Float House. The first photo is of a dark wood panelled hallway with spotlights, light coloured flooring and a floor-to-ceiling window. And the second photo is of wooden stairs and the dining area which features white walls, sphere lighting, a dining table, chairs and tall glass windows

Inside out – views of rocks, lakes and the ocean are captured in picture perfect frames

(Image credit: Doublespace)

Two side-by-side photos of Float House. The first photo is of the living room interior featuring a white ceiling and walls, spotlights, tall windows, a dark coloured corner sofa, a glass coffee table, a chair, a side table and a fireplace with chopped wood beside it. And the second photo is of the exterior during the evening

The living room opens to panoramic views over a series of lakes with the ocean visible in the distance

(Image credit: Doublespace)

INFORMATION

Photography: Doublespace