Contextual Issues are for us prime considerations. We visit the site to sketch and photograph. Issues of view into and out-of the house,
into and out-of the garden and to and from the street form initial determinants for the design of the building. As landscape designers, we feel
happy to design a garden. As architects, we are happy to design a house. We feel our best work is in doing both at once. Sometimes the best garden
is the untended garden: the natural beauty of Nova Scotia. We frequently propose solutions which minimize environmental damage by limiting the amount of
cultivation and site appropriation.
Material and Structure
We consider the building's material qualities, cost and and material expression as we work.
While most materials are acceptable in some way, we do not specify or use materials which are
ersatz or in any way try to mimic other materials. So, for instance, we never use vinyl siding on the walls or clip on muntin bars in the windows.
Materially, we are very conservative. We let others experiment with unproven materials, and use only time honoured techniques.
When it comes to the outdoor spaces, we believe in an organic approach to gardening. This leads us to specify plant materials which are reliably
hardy and reasonably carefree in the agricultural zone in which we are working. Furthermore, like all organic gardeners, our first concern is
about soil stability and fertility. Beyond that, we are still architects: gardens are for walking, sitting and being-in, just like rooms.
Architecturally, we feel building with quality for a long time is a measure of environmental responsibility. As well, we always do conventional passive solar construction.
While the majority of new residential construction in Nova Scotia seems bent on recapturing a lost past, we firmly believe that we need to look
to the future, and not to fabricate an historicist view of the past. Our buildings do not look like UFOs, but neither are they Plastic Georgian or Vinyl Victorian.
Models, Photographs and Drawings
All good architects work in model form. We always construct study models to help us consider the 3D aspects of our work.
Often clients mention that this is helpful to them as well. Frequently the models we make are digital ones.
This is not to gainsay the importance of drawings in architectural work. We still use pencils but we also use the
best drawing software that we can find, such as CAD, Photoshop, Google SketchUP, etc. We also use digital photography as an integral part of our work.
When the time is right, we will produce a set of presentation design drawings and models which are often used for
bank financing, preliminary conversations with builders, or just for display.
Occasionally over the years, builders have mentioned that our drawings are as "clear and considered" as any they have seen.
Many recent clients have read the book "The Not So Big House" by Sarah Susanka and Kira Obolensky. We generally subscribe to the smart
notions mentioned in the book. One of the best ways an architect can reduce the impact (financial, environment, visual) of a building is by
thoughtfully considering the need for the space and the size required for that activity.
The underlying premise of the Not So Big Philosophy is that with thoughtful, artful and site related design, one saves money and resource while
achieving greater beauty and comfort in the house.
Modern houses with contemporary heating/ventilation systems are always quite comfortable. We suggest a few ideas to enhance the norm,
such as in-floor radiant heating and natural ventilation by way of cross-ventilation and stack effect. Furthermore, if indoor air quality is
a particular issue (for example, in a house for the environmentally hypersensitive), we are able to address those concerns as well.
While everyone seems to be GREEN these days, very few buildings end up with a serious environmental orientation.
We try to see the biggest picture possible, use the latest technology and propose solutions which are practical, clever and useful.
We consider our selves part of the community of artists. As such, we hold the work of other artists to be important and we value
the incorporation of various artful works in our new buildings. We regularly work with Stained Glass artists Phillip Doucette,
Ceramist Neil Forrest and Painter/Scenographer Sheila Provazza and will happily partner with any serious artist.