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Enough House

This unique 2-storey dwelling was designed by Brian MacKay-Lyons and engineered by Reneé MacKay-Lyons. The Enough House with its traditional gabled roof talks to the adjacent 1880 octagonal Troop Barn and 1830 Cheboque School House. At the same time, its modern Corten steel exterior gives the Gate House a unique identity in the Shobac landscape.

Enough-House-By-MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple-Architects-01-James-Brittain-759x569 Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© James Brittain

Enough House is an essay in economy. At just 700-square-feet, the simple form recalls the archetypal child’s image of a house. It was partially inspired by the residence of Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis, who lived in a simple structure that consisted of a single room downstairs with a stove, stairs and a window to paint beside, and a bedroom upstairs. Enough House is similarly restrained in terms of programming, while the materiality is strictly contemporary: all Cor-ten outside with many rusted steel totems and rustic wood finishes inside.

Enough-House-By-MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple-Architects-02-James-Brittain-749x1000 Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© James Brittain

It offers prospect through an expansive 24-foot wide corner window overlooking the pastoral valley to the north and a 12-foot wide south-facing window presenting dramatic views of the cupola of the Troop Barn nearby and Hirtle’s Beach in the distance. Simultaneously, it provides refuge for guests by cleverly turning its back to the road at grade level.

Enough-House-By-MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple-Architects-05-James-Brittain-759x506 Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© James Brittain

Enough-House-By-MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple-Architects-06-James-Brittain-749x1000 Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© James Brittain

The weathered steel cladding is an appropriate choice, given that Nova Scotia was the biggest producer of steel in Canada over a century ago. But if the house were placed in another part of the world, materials that suit the locale could be used instead. Even in a less idyllic landscape, Enough would be a simple yet stunning abode. For those interested in finding out if it lives up to its name, the prototype can be rented out during the summer.

Enough-House-By-MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple-Architects-08-James-Brittain-759x522 Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© James Brittain

Enough-House-By-MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple-Architects-09-James-Brittain-759x507 Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© James Brittain

MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects:

Enough House is the newest addition to architect Brian MacKay-Lyons’ Shobac farm in Nova Scotia. The beautiful property overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and acts as both the satellite rural studio for Mackay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects and as an architectural testing ground. For almost 30 years, MacKay-Lyons has used the cliff-side site to explore ideas of form, materiality and building in the landscape. The campus mixes old and new, as reclaimed historic buildings sit next to modern structures unified by their palette.

Enough-House-By-MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple-Architects-13-James-Brittain-749x1000 Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© James Brittain

How much house is enough in terms of both size and craft? This approximately 700 ft² dwelling is the most recent in a series of affordable, modest houses designed by the firm, exploring the idea of ‘economy as ethic’.

Enough-House-By-MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple-Architects-14-James-Brittain-749x1000 Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© James Brittain

It is a flexible prototype which is intended to be replicated and customized to specific sites. Its inherent ‘DNA’ allows this one bedroom house to easily grow into a two bedroom, 1,000 ft² family house. It is proto-urban, as it implies aggregation to make urban fabric. Its material expression can be adapted to other cultural contexts. It is rational in its structure and modular in its components. It is a small building which can have a big impact.

Enough-House-By-MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple-Architects-16-James-Brittain-749x1000 Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© James Brittain

Its first iteration on the Ghost Campus serves as accommodation for an intern architect. It acts as a gatehouse. Through its traditional gabled roof form it communicates with the adjacent 1880s octagonal troop barn and 1830 Chebogue Schoolhouse (reconstructed and moved to the site). Due to its pivotal position in the campus, it actively engages with all of the other adjacent structures by framing courtyards. It optimizes both prospect and refuge in the landscape. As a landscape viewing instrument it seems to own the pastoral valley to the north and east through a generous 24’ wide corner window. At grade the blank plinth/hearth/stair wall protects the interior from the road, while a 12’ south-facing window above offers solar gain and a dramatic view toward Hirtle’s Beach. The supporting concrete fins extend into the landscape forming an entry dooryard and a fire court, stitching the cabin into its immediate context.

Enough-House-By-MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple-Architects-17-James-Brittain-759x587 Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© James Brittain

Enough-House-By-MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple-Architects-19-James-Brittain-749x1000 Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© James Brittain

Enough House is more a verb than a noun, like an unstable molecule. It is an active agent which engages with its situation. This modernist, kinetic quality is due to its consistent use of the dynamic principle of pinwheeling composition, in terms of site plan, plan, section and elevation, which is found throughout the body of work of the firm.

Enough-House-By-MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple-Architects-22-William-Green-759x502 Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© William Green

Project Data:

Project name: Enough House
Location: Shobac Cottage and Studio Rentals, 386-440 Net Yard Ln, Riverport, NS B0J 2W0, Canada
Coordinates: 44.260868, -64.287633

  • Type By Characteristic: Cabin / Hut / Cottage, Holiday House, Farm House
  • Type By Site: Beach House, Countryside / Suburb House
  • Type By Size: Large House – (more than 650 sqm)
  • Type By Materials: Steel House

Floor count: 2
Project area: 700 sq.ft / 65 sqm
Status: Built
Completion Year: 2015


  • 2016 – AZURE Magazine’s Awards – Category: Concept Prototype – Winner
  • 2016 – Residential Architect Design (RADA) Awards – Category: Custom House Less Than 3,000 Square Feet – Honorable Mention
  • 2016 – Interior Design Magazine Award – Best of Year Awards – Category: Budget – Honoree Award
  • 2016 – Wood Design & Building Magazine Awards – Merit Award

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Shobac Cottage and Studio Rentals

Project Team:

  • Brian MacKay-Lyons, with Meggie Kelly and Tyler Reynolds

Building company: Philip Creaser Custom Homes and Woodworking Ltd.


  • Blackwell (Renée MacKay-Lyons)

Text Description: © Courtesy of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects
Images: © MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, William Green, James Brittain


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Enough House / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects
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