Featured Architecture

Black Gables

Black Gables are simply put, two modest sized gabled buildings, jet black, with a seemingly paper thin roof. The two buildings, one for primary living and the other for a studio and darkroom are located at skewed angles to one another so as to take advantage of the best views, exposure to appropriate daylighting and overall playful composition.

The project was designed for a local physician, acclaimed artist and collector Jonah Samson.

In his own words:

“The house was built between May and December 2013 in a small town called Louisdale on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.  I had been living in Vancouver for about 10 years and decided that I wanted to move back to the east coast, and build a home and studio on a piece of forested, ocean-front property that had been in my family for generations.  It was only after we cut down some of the trees, that I realized how spectacular the view from the house was going to be.

The goal was to be economical with both the budget, and with the amount of space the buildings occupied in the forest.  The house is 1200 sq ft, with one bedroom, and a separate room that I use as a library/office.  A wide hallway runs down the entire length of the house, so I could have a long wall to display art.  The detached studio is about 450 sq ft, which is primarily an open space, but also houses a small dark room.  The total budget for both buildings was about $300,000 (my architect still thinks it’s amazing that we built this house for under $200/sf!).

The house was built using all local materials and labor.  It was built on a concrete slab, with a wood frame.  The exterior of the house is a composition of textures (all black), including a metal jacket roof, cedar shingles and metal cladding between the windows.  We decided to spend money on the roof, shingles and windows, and save money by using a pre-fabricated structure.  Using all local builders and contractors also allowed us to save a lot on the total budget.  I grew up in this town, and my parents still live down the road – I think it helped that mostly everyone who worked on the project knew my family.”


LOCATION: Louisdale, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada
PROJECT STATUS: Completed Winter 2014
CLIENT: Jonah Samson http://www.jonahsamson.net
DESIGN: Omar Gandhi, Peter Braithwaite
NOVA SCOTIA CONTRACTOR: Harbourview Construction Limited
STRUCTURAL: Andrea Doncaster

Photos by Greg Richardson


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