"Imagine flying over the bones of a ghost village on the edge of the world"- Brian MacKay-Lyons
Every Summer, Canadian architect Brian MacKay-Lyons hosts a two week design-build seminar at his own farm along the southern Nova Scotian coast.
Students of architecture from the international community convene here, and construct an additional piece of the ghost lab village. A structure’s concept is born from the site’s contextual properties -views, material, proximity, location as well as it’s 400 year history of settlement. Past ghosts were meant to be ephemeral, temporary structures-almost considered to be follies. Eventually the weathering elements would take them out to sea, or pull them back to the earth in a heap of lumber. However, the most recent projects have become permanent dwellings, allowing participants a greater appreciation for students’ work before them.
A Crash Course in ‘Material Culture’
Built in the master craftsmen tradition, a number of guests from the international design community are invited to participate in the ghost lab. In the summer of 2006, Architect David Miller from Miller Hull Architects in Seattle as well as writer and architecture critic Peter Buchanon were the special guests for Ghost Lab VIII. Both individuals share the same ideals in the regionalistic approaches to design, and advocate for a more sustainable built environment. Returning guests contractor Bob Benz and master builder Gordon MacLean provided construction expertise. At the conclusion of the lab, it has been customary to celebrate the completion of each project with a concert in traditional folk music by singers such as Lennie Gallant and other local artists.
Ghost 7 - The precedent
The previous year, Ghost 7 was built out of the need of seasonal dwellings of four identical cottages for ghost participants and eventually as holiday rentals. Now nicknamed the 'Shobac Cottages', these case study dwellings were meant to provide modest accommodations for visitors, but also immerse the ghost attendees in the local building practices. Using the visible construction methods as precedent, they informed the approach to design & construction of Ghost 8.
Ghost 8 - 'The Studio'
Ghost 8 determined its program through a need of appropriate work space for MLS Architects and ghost lab students. Dubbed 'The Studio', the space has a seemingly elementary layout of a recta-linear plan, measuring 16 feet wide x 90 feet long. The shed roof rises gradually to the west at a 1:12 slope until a double height space is achieved, and a sleeping loft can overlook the horizon of the Atlantic. The plan and section are organized in an asymmetrical 'pinwheel' fashion, allowing for a daytime viewing deck on the east, and a sunset porch on the Northwest.
The Studio will eventually be clad in corrugated galvalume panels and glass to be used as a workspace for future ghost participants. Windows are strategically placed, with the largest openings on the south & west for passive heating and spectacular views, respectively. Openings are limited on the north, but placed high for pleasant diffuse daylight. Most utility functions are embedded in the north wall including stove, fireplace, kitchen equipment and built in storage. The Washroom is placed at the southwest corner , in keeping with the 'pinwheel' plan organization. During the colder winter months, the space is heated passively by the southern exposure to the sun, along with a backup radiant flooring heat in extremely cold conditions. Operable windows and a 2-story volume allow for natural breezes to cool the space during warm summer days.
To see the completed project, and read Peter Buchanan's essay, Escaping Normality to Embrace Reality, go here.
The entire Ghost Campus recently won the Ron Thom Award from the Canadian Wood Council. See the press release here.
Ghost 8 Participants:
Renatta Carettoni Abma, David Archer, John Blake, Sarah Calandro, Christian Callaghan, Morgan Carter, Mellissa Clark, Jason Cross, Vector Ebergenyl, Nathaniel Felder, Carey Givens, Jerry Greer, James Hill, Bill Holloway, Jessica Erin Johnson, Mike Johnson, Kasey Josephs, John Klebanowski, Lindsey MacDonald, Brad Manning, Patrick Martin, Zui Lig Ng, Bianca Pulitzer, Alejandro Quintilla, Stephen Ramos, Jaqueline Randall, Dru H Schwyhart, Sean Solowski, Lauren Tindall, David Vilkama, Gavin Yuill
Location: Upper Kingsburg, Nova Scotia, Canada