The Village of Pugwash is a mining community that has been recognized traditionally for its history of Scottish settlement, with its attitude towards utilitarianism and respect for the land. Visually, the landscape of Pugwash is defined by the Barn, and over the years the barn's original structure and function has been altered from a place of storage for animals and equipment, to being renovated into Canadian domestic architecture. As a result, the Barn has become a sort of cultural vernacular for Canadians, a visual language specific to a new generation. Serving as inspiration for architects, including Brian MacKay-Lyons of MacKay–Lyons Sweetapple Architects Limited, the traditional structure of the Barn is being reinvented into contemporary use as seen in the Leahey II House in the Village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia. At houseporn.ca, we call this The New Canadian Vernacular.
The Leahey II House is a juxtaposition of the traditional barn archetype on two different levels; let's start with the material and its function: The Home has kept the traditional influence of Scottish barns and farming culture - specific to Pugwash - by maintaining the form and material simplicity of the barn design. However, the design has been modernized through the use of Galvalume cladding which creates clean minimalist lines and a neutral base tone. This material allows the distilled essence of the design to be illuminated, as it captures light from the surrounding landscape, creating gorgeous gradients in both color and tone.
As well, the residence maintains the functional characteristics of a barn through its use and layout, where compartments are dedicated for sleep, engagement, and storage. This shelter is composed of three seamlessly interconnected buildings, and flanked by a separate, fourth storage space. The distance between the residence and the separated storage space creates a dialogue for how the architect is playing with the concepts of traditional (storage space) and contemporary (residence).
Both the material usage and structural layout of the design work in harmony to create a stunningly minimalist residence - one that bridges the gap between the local vernacular of the area and its contemporary growth.
However, the home's location is also an important aspect to consider. When designing the home, architect Brian MacKay-Lyons urged the owners to build it on the edge of two lots, which he explained helped the home lay lightly on the land. This attitude reflects the longstanding local importance of preservation and respect for the land.
The Minimalist design of the Leahey II House both blends in and stands out in the village of Pugwash. Drawing on the architect's inherit understanding of sense of place in his native Nova Scotia, and the influence of modern art forms, the Leahey II House acts as a contemporary archetype for the new vernacular. It offers us both a glimpse of the past and the inspiration of the present, but it is not the only home in Nova Scotia that does this MLS architects have built many homes in the province and each elaborate on the same idea of the new vernacular!
Be sure to check out these stories that feature MLS Architects on the houseporn.ca website:
Visit MacKay- Lyons SweetApple Architects to see their entire body of work, and to ogle over their conceptual designs.
Researched and written by Amanda Salmon, a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate from the Alberta College of Art and Design.