Perched amongst wild roses on miles of shoreline, the Rose Coast Residence frames the area’s history through its expansive windows.
Sited along a beautiful bay in The Maritimes, this contemporary farmhouse is both deeply connected to the region’s agrarian past and poised to embrace its promising, yet uncertain, future.
The design of the home has its roots in a nearby island, where, in the late 19th century, Canadian Pacific Railway president, Sir William Van Horne, built a lavish summer retreat. Van Horne was an avid painter, whose subject matter often was the rose-covered coastline opposite his home. This little historical detail is what inspired architect, Monica Adair, of Acre Architects, to name the project The Rose Coast.
“We wanted to situate the house in this region—really make it about a house that’s connected to The Maritimes and its history,” Adair said.
As one approaches the home from the road, the first glimpse of it is of the three gables covered in locally quarried stone. The vernacular form of the gables and materials are familiar, but the execution is fresh and arresting. Adair said she used the stone to represent the history of the place to future visitors, as if creating the story of Atlantic Canada’s past in the present.
The inhabitants in this area are known to value function over form, utility over ornamentation. Adair’s clients were sensitive to this. And while they were drawn to contemporary architecture they didn’t want their home to appear ostentatious. Instead, they wanted it look as though it had been there for years—modern, but not Modern. Adair’s solution was to use familiar materials on the exterior that harken back to an earlier time—stone and weathered board and batten cedar plank siding.
To Adair, using these locally sourced raw materials and the local tradesmen for the build not only help to connect the home to the region’s past, but are tangible ways to invest in its present and future as well.
“Windows belong to the inside, to the viewer, but the other materials represent the place,” Adair said.
If the stone gables and plank siding are meant to pay homage to the region’s vernacular and building materials of yore, the spectacular, glass-covered gables on the opposite end of the home represent the other half of its duality—boldly looking forward.
The striking contrast between the two ends—one stone, one glass—was intended to convey a sense of arrival and celebrate it in an unforgettable way. The stone acts as a threshold, and once you’ve arrived, or in Adair’s word’s, “broken through”, the wall of glass and the gorgeous views of the bay offer up the ultimate visual reward.
“Windows are an amazing way to connect, because they really are a vessel to be able to understand your site,” Adair said. “It’s not just about seeing the project, it’s about seeing the place, the most incredible sunrise, the changing water views.”
Adair had considered curtain walls for the gables, but it felt too slick. Instead, she went in the opposite direction, using thick mulls between the stunningly large Marvin windows to impart a sense of strength, texture and boldness. The visual weight makes you aware of the structure’s bones, instead of hiding them through an act of minimalism. It also helps to bridge the gap between the area’s traditional architecture with the contemporary form of the home. Again uniting past and present.
Throughout the rest of the home, Adair used smaller Marvin windows as framing devices for particular views, and to bring additional light into selective spaces.
“There’s a tree grove off the side of the house, and we have a little tiny window that almost acts as a painting,” Adair said.
The clarity of Adair’s vision is simple and spot on. She has taken the region’s traditional vernacular and given it a bold, yet restrained refresh. And while the architecture is unmistakably contemporary, it’s easy to imagine the home fitting seamlessly into one of Van Horne’s paintings of The Rose Coast.
The Rose Coast project was the Best Transitional winner in the 2018 Marvin Architects Challenge.
Name: The Rose Coast
Architect: Monica Adair + Stephen Kopp
Firm: Acre Architects