IMMMERSION I NOVA SCOTIA 2012
Along the road south from Lunenburg to our site, the sea comes in and out of view. The landscape shifts between dense spruce forest, coastal estuary and pastoral farmland. It rises and falls between 'drumlins' of soil deposited here by retreating glaciers at the end of the last ice age, occasionally dropping off at rocky sea cliffs, or down to wide beaches.
As you top the final hill before descending down into shobac, the world seems to open up to the Atlantic stretching out before you, giving you a sense of the power it has over life here. The sea brings with it powerful storms and thick fogs that roll in and close out the world around you. There is a distinctly local mood to this 'village at the end of the earth'.
This part of Nova Scotia is not a place for grand statements of ego. As such, it is hardly a place you would expect to find world-renown architecture, but that is exactly what has developed at the Shobac.
Over the the past 18 years the Ghost Laboratory program, under the careful direction of Canadian Architect Brian MacKay-Lyons, has transformed this spot of rocky coastline, where the French Explorer Champlain landed in 1604, into an epicenter of sorts for a certain type of design thinking.
The community of structures, some remaining, some lost to weather and time, stands as a monument to design that is less about the architect, and more about the place and a tradition of craft that is embedded in the local community. MacKay-Lyons says he is a sort of village architect, and the truth of this is apparent when you visit the Shobac Farm. Many of his most celebrated projects are in the immediate area surrounding the Upper Kingsburg site, and he makes his home in the studio there part of the year. While the forms are distinctly modern, they are neither overbearing, nor out of place here.
The shobac cottages [ghost 7] and studio [ghost 8] were our home for the program. Both the cottages and studio have been featured in numerous architectural publications since their completion, with the Cottages winning an AIA Honor Award, and most recently Canadian Architect Award of Excellence in 2011.