A Nova Scotia holiday home by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple draws on its context

A Nova Scotia holiday home by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple draws on its context

Smith House, a complex of three Corten steel and stone pavilions in Nova Scotia, is a private retreat inspired by its locale’s nature and history, courtesy of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

Not far from the water, among the green nature of Nova Scotia, sits a little cluster of Corten steel gabled roofs. Composed like a minimalist village, or a rural farming complex, made of stark lines and simple materials, this is the work of Canadian architecture practice MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple; and it is in fact, a private vacation home.

This family retreat – Smith House – sits right on the edge of Shobac – Brian MacKay-Lyons’ own farm compound on the Atlantic coast, a project the architect has been developing and growing over the course of years. This new house follows a similar approach, comprising three volumes, which feature a simple, almost archetypal house outline.

The cluster is situated within a two-acre plot – a spot historically hosting an old fishing village. The architects’ design draws on this history, blending the land and the new design into an arrangement of small buildings, courtyards and paths. 

The structures’ shapes echo the region’s vernacular buildings, yet they are made entirely out of modern materials and contemporary technology and fittings. A stone plinth made of local granite grounds the complex and links it intrinsically to its surrounds.

Inside, the ‘pavilions’ hold different uses. One contains the master bedroom, with its walk-in wardrobe and en-suite bathroom, the second houses a small studio space, and the third (the largest) was designed with the social aspect in mind, including living room, kitchen and a generous dinning area.

‘At a time when so much of our world is in flux, this is a project that is about timeless archetypes, rather than novelty or fashion,’ say the architects. ‘It is less about itself than it is about the landscape cultivated around it’. §

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