Smith Residence by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple

Escape to the tranquility of Canada’s maritime province with a visit to the Smith Residence, a minimalist vacation retreat nestled in Nova Scotia’s historic landscape. This masterpiece, designed by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple in 2020, embodies a thoughtful blend of old-world charm and modern design aesthetics. Echoing the local vernacular, the house stands as a modern reinterpretation of a historic fishing village, with a nod to the 400-year-old granite ruin nearby.

The Smith Residence is a testament to architectural maturity, showcasing minimalist detailing, unique fenestration, and modern cladding. Split into three distinct gabled structures, the retreat offers a day pavilion for social activities, a night pavilion for rest, and a shed that serves as a gatehouse. This unique design, combined with sweeping views of the ocean horizon and the surrounding hills, offers a serene retreat from the world.

Smith Residence by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple - 1
Smith Residence by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple - 2
Smith Residence by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple - 3
Smith Residence by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple - 4
Smith Residence by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple - 5
Smith Residence by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple - 6
Smith Residence by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple - 7
Smith Residence by Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple - 8

About Smith Residence

Revitalizing an Historic Site with Modern Aesthetic

This project is a groundbreaking proto-urban endeavor, forming a harmonious village along with other houses conceptualized by the same architect. Set on the site of a storied fishing village, these homes nod to traditional forms while embracing the future through their modern cladding, fenestration, and minimalist detailing. The Smith Residence shines as a mature representation of an architectural language meticulously crafted over four decades.

Paying Homage to the Village’s Rich Past

The clients envisioned a home that would honor the site’s rich history, notably, the neighboring 400-year-old granite ruin. The design masterfully revolves around a monumental stone plinth, crafted from local granite—a relic of the last ice age, traditionally hand-split to build the original village.

A Trio of Structures: Balancing Prospect and Refuge

The residence comprises three gabled structures: a ‘day pavilion,’ a ‘night pavilion,’ and a ‘shed.’ The day pavilion, almost entirely glazed, highlights ‘prospect.’ Conversely, the cave-like night pavilion emphasizes ‘refuge.’ Acting as a gatehouse, the shed perches on the roadside retaining wall. The day pavilion—housing the kitchen, dining, and living areas—creates a temple-like space atop the stone plinth, its near-total glazing accentuating the ocean horizon and the surrounding hills. The night pavilion, mirrored in the infinity hot tub, can be reached by crossing the granite plinth. The strategically cantilevered Corten ‘bite’ frames the landscape upon entry.

A Resilient Design Embracing Local Material Culture

Thoughtfully embracing local material culture and micro-climates, the Smith Residence is designed to rest lightly yet resiliently on the landscape. Monumental yet humble in its approach, the residence stands on 15,000-year-old granite (equivalent to about 49,213 feet) and is wrapped in a protective steel embrace, ready to face an unpredictable climatic future.

Visit Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

- by Matt Watts