Designed by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Arcitects, Sunset Rock House is an Oceanside vacation retreat for a professional couple on the southern coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. The home runs parallel with the Atlantic Ocean and sits on a bed of exposed granite. The Atlantic Ocean is known for stormy days and so, the home perches high above the water line on a series of narrow concrete fins. The façade of the home is clad in corrugated galvalume while the exposed underside is covered in marine grade plywood further ensuring the home’s ability to withstand the punishment Mother Nature might throw its way. Situated near a small fishing village the exterior appeal and sculptural nature of the home was inspired by the commercial fishery buildings nearby while the large void located on one end of the building creates a sheltered outdoor terrace from which to enjoy the ever changing views of the waterscape beyond. The original client brief was for a “landscape-viewing instrument, with its side opened to the Atlantic Ocean horizon, and its end a focusing aperture to the sunset.”
From a distance, the Sunset Rock House is invisible on the many days the area is blanketed with a seaside fog, on those clearer days, the home glistens with a silvery grey hue as though it where a large, low lying cloud. On closer approach, the homes silhouette is exposed and details emerge. The entry becomes obvious from the wide bank of stairs that lead up to and through the covered entry deck
On closer approach, the home’s close proximity to the ocean is revealed as the far end cantilevers out over the Sunset Rock.
The wide length of stairs leading up to the entry of the home also exposes a private entry to the master suite and an exposed view of the ocean beyond.
The exposed view of the ocean is the perfect place to pause and enjoy the sunset before heading in to the social zone on the right or the private zone on the left.
The interior volume of the home is void of all colours with the exception of the exposed black steel skeleton and fireplace surround, the soft grey polished concrete floors and the soft white walls. This neutral wrap allows the brilliance of the ocean side view to be the colour story for the home. The living room connects to the covered deck at the end of the home, and here, with no land in sight; the concrete flooring connects to and becomes part of the views.
The wood burning fireplace creates a dry heat – perfect for a seaside home – during sunny days the large expanses of windows also transfer heat into the interior volumes and whether from the sun itself, or from the flickering flames, the concrete floors absorb the heat for a thermal exchange that continues well into the night. Beside the fireplace is a steel ladder that leads to a loft space – perfect for tranquil moments to reflect, read, or – as the homeowners like to do – write. The loft allows connection to the public zone below while still offering a private moment.
Access to the covered deck is through a modest glass door located on the end of the glazed wall. Here, a long, deep bench offers the perfect place to relax and watch the sunsets. Small pot lights keep the space well lit as the sun disappears.
The connection to nature from this exterior void is amazing. Sunset Rock extends past the deck before it disappears into the ocean. This rocky outcrop grows and shrinks with the tides, creating an ever-changing vista.
Additional features to this home are the clerestory windows above the “bed boxes” allowing for starlit views to fall asleep by and a low window tub side for a spa like atmosphere.
Because of the exposed site, the home is outfitted with large sliding barn doors that can be closed off, sealing it during storms. The metal skin itself also provides protection.
MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Arcitects
Photography by Greg Richardson