Shantih is a refuge. She is composed of multiple contrasting and duelling identities. She is modest and elaborate, finely crafted and possibly repetitive, big, loud and bright while also sombre, eerily mysterious and pensive. Her two arms wrap around and hold onto the land sloping away from her towards the infinite sea.
Shantih is located in Hunts Point, Nova Scotia, a small beach town in Queen’s County. The region’s wide harbours, fisheries, abundant timber and waterways attracted French fishermen and fur traders as early as the sixteenth century and American settlers from Colonial New England in 1759.
The clients make their primary home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. When the retired couple is not at sea on an adventure they are deeply involved in providing a caring and supportive environment for youth with mental illness.
The clients required that their new cottage engage the landscape, have a modest and hidden façade facing the road and provide a venue for their ever-growing extended family. The natural grassy bowl in the middle of the property had long been a playground for their young grandchildren and so the cottage was required to engage the field in the foreground. The cottage would need to provide a quiet retreat from the busy city life and offer multiple environments for interior/exterior engagement, rest, quiet and joy.
Shantih provides an intended drama – the joy of seeing the unfathomable view again for the first time repeatedly. The building is composed of varying contrasts through space, acoustics, contrasting light and textures to build that narrative. A building wide strip window, with unique views from each vantage point tie the ends of the building together. Long corridors of light turned darkness and noise turned quiet in “compression” zones create the crescendo at the mouth of the grande bright, loud view.
The cottage is composed of two wings flanking a central great room. The south wing encompasses all of the primary dwelling units while the opposing wing houses all of the guest and less frequently used rooms. A cross-grained main entry pulls visitors inside one of its two flaps (the other for the basement) along on of the a long corridor to the first of 3 compression zones before entering the main space which is supported by 2 foot deep engineered wood beams. The great room includes a kitchen, dining and living room including a 6 foot long gas fireplace. The main space is adjoined by corridors which lead to either the guest wing, the primary wing or an exterior space sunroom will fully collapsible glazed walls and suspended wood fireplace. Concrete floors, exposed wood and locally fabricated millwork make up the space palette.
The buildings’ exterior skin is composed of lightly stained eastern white cedar shingles, fine horizontal slats, exposed poplar soffits, stainless steel chimneys and a crisp white aerofoil brise soleil. The rear (street) of the cottage is a long and low horizontal shy line just above the horizon while the private façade (ocean) is tall, proud and open to the western daylight and ocean view.
The simultaneous joy of light, space, and sound are never more beautiful than when in juxtaposition with darkness, confinement, and solitude. Compression zones from the threshold into the great room from all adjoining spaces.
LOCATION: Hunts Point, Nova Scotia
PROJECT STATUS: Completed Summer 2011
DESIGN: Omar Gandhi
NOVA SCOTIA CONTRACTOR: Trunnells & Tenons Construction Ltd. (Deborah Herman-Spartinelli)
STRUCTURAL: Andrea Doncaster
PHYSICAL MODEL: Chad Jamieson, Omar Gandhi (photography)
RENDERINGS: Omar Gandhi
PHOTOGRAPGHY: Greg Richardson, Omar Gandhi