Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | December 29, 2010

Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

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It is truly fortunate that there are so many blends of teas that we as couch critic’s can be liberal enough to pass our own unprofessional opinion on what is great, what is good or average, and what falls short of our own taste buds.

While most of what MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Ltd, feature as award-winning designs, (they have won over 75 awards, including 5 Governor General’s Medals and the American Institute of Architects honor Award), may not fall into the classification of “my cup of tea”, the principles upon which they base their designs definitely warrant recognition and the paying of close attention.

Calling Halifax, Nova Scotia their home, a few of their designs have fled the border and sprung up in places as far removed as Bangladesh. When it came to The Canadian Chancery and Official Residence in Dhaka, Bangladesh, MacKay had this to say:

“Bangladesh is a country of extremes. It has one of the densest populations on earth and is one of the world’s poorest nations. It has a hot climate with monsoon rains that can leave as much as 90% of the country under water. Our contectualist approach is not a style, but rather a discipline, a method, a way of seeing which is culturally transferable. Building within the material culture of a place not only communicates a respect for regional context but also ensures the maximum economic value to the client.”

Does that all fall on your ears as pure and simple gibberish ?

Well it shouldn’t. MacKay-Lyons has a mission statement of embracing the land with the interruption it refers to as design. They utilize rocky hill tops and tend to leave the meadows to the cattle and agriculture which will benefit the community as a whole. Orientation of their structures is of primary concern, for if they can situated a given building to take full advantage of the sun for passive heating and utilize the lay of the land to avoid the full force of harsh winds, they have returned to the age-old principles of construction that date back hundreds of years. Utilizing the natural materials from off the land or from the local community also plays a part of  another primary objective.

As the youngest student in his Dalhousie University class, Mackay’s professor told him the place he came from wasn’t “architecture.” From that moment on he made up his mind that he would “rather be a first-class hick, than a third-class architect doing what they consider architecture.”

From here on in, we will allow you to be the judge.

Are they your cup of tea?

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