Engineer: Blackwell (Renée MacKay-Lyons)
Building company: Philip Creaser Custom Homes and Woodworking Ltd.
Builder: Shobac Limited
Architects: MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects
Brian MacKay-Lyons, Meggie Kelley, Tyler Reynolds
Location: CDN–Upper Kingsburg, Nova Scotia
We have to go back a bit in order to tell the story of Enough House. Today’s town of Shobac, situated on the east coast of Nova Scotia, was originally used by the Mi’kmaq First Nations as summer camp and fishing ground before European settlers arrived. In 1603, not far from here, French explorer Samuel de Champlain first set foot on North American soil.
For the Europeans, this stretch of land was like the beginning of the New World. In contrast, in the late twentieth century it was more like the end of the world: the last permanent settlement had been abandoned decades before. Forest was reclaiming the old pastures.
It is mainly thanks to native Nova Scotian architect Brian MacKay-Lyons that Shobac is again home to a settlement: an ensemble of holiday homes that feature a certain architectural flair. In 1998, MacKay-Lyons started cultivating the land again and creating a new settlement that was part holiday village and part open-air museum. Of the dozen buildings in Shobac, a few holiday homes were designed by MacKay-Lyons. However, the architect had the octagonal barn and saddle-roofed, wood-clad one-room schoolhouse moved from their original location and reassembled here. These can now be rented by holiday guests or for special events.
Enough House is currently the newest building in Shobac; it is also one of the smallest. The prototypical two-storey, saddle-roofed house measures just 70 m². There is just enough space for two to live comfortably. If needed, it can easily be expanded to a complete family home measuring 100 m².
MacKay-Lyons describes the house as a prototype for space-saving (sub-)urban living. The corten-steel shell fits into its weather-beaten location on the Atlantic coast. In principle, the architect could have used any other material. The shell conceals a wood-frame construction that is visible on the inside of the house.
Generous corner glazing on the ground floor and a panoramic window upstairs link the living spaces with the surrounding landscape. Here, the term ‘ground floor’ is relative, for the house is balanced on its wider foundation wall as if it had been placed there only temporarily. A narrow, corten-steel stairway leads down from the terrace door to the meadow. On the other hand, the front door leads into the house via a sheltered cut-out in the corner.
Enough House hangs in the balance: its shape suggests stability, yet its loose connection to the subconstruction calls to mind the mobile homes of the North American subcontinent, which generally turn out to be anything but mobile once they have been set in place. Considering the architect’s intention to have the house built in greater numbers, this reference is altogether appropriate.