Ghost 7 / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

© James Steeves

The Ghost Architectural Laboratory is the research facility of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Limited. It is an education initiative designed to promote the transfer of architectural knowledge through direct experience – project-based learning taught in the master-builder tradition – with emphasis on issues of landscape, material culture, and community. For two weeks every summer builders, students, engineers, architects, and professors converge on MacKay’s property to partake in a design/build intership. The one featured here is Ghost 7, the first permanent Ghost project.

Project description, images, and drawings after the break.

Architect: MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Limited
Location: , , Canada
Project Team: Brian MacKay-Lyons, Talbot Sweetapple, Peter Blackie
Structural: Campbell Coumeau
Builder: Gordon McLean, Warren Mcally
Project Area: 2,000 sqf
Project Year: 2006
Photographs: James Steeves

© James Steeves

Ghost 7 provides lodging for future Ghost participants—an optimistic vision of longevitiy for the project and for the site. While offering refuge in the landscape, Ghost 7 is a perforated, less-defensive version of the archetypal courtyard form of habitation. As a result, the landscape percolates through the scheme. The siting geometry is drawn from the structural grid of the Ghost 5 project opposite.

© James Steeves

The four resulting structures can be described both as cabins and as pavilions. They are cabins by way of their limited size (720 sqf) and their modest means; they are pavilions by their ambition to create a rich range of spatial experience within a modernist free plan within the landscape. The series of Ghost 7 buildings, with tight spaces between, is based on the precedent of a collection of a particular, yet typical, group of closely space Nova Scotian fish sheds.


In the manner of Louis Kahn, the parti consists of a “servant box,” wrapped by a larger “served shed.” The servant box contains the sleeping areas, bathroom, kitchen, mechanical services, and balcony; the served shed houses the gathering space. The box is a finished and heated retreat clad in vertical boards while the shed remains raw and unheated and clad in eastern white shingles four inches to the weather.

© James Steeves

The post foundations result in a minimum impact on the land. Prefabricated built-up wood trusses the loads into the foundations. The envelope consists of a rough-sawn wood two-by-four stud frame. The metal roofing is corrugated Galvalume.

© James Steeves

To view a video of last year’s project click here.

Cite: "Ghost 7 / MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects" 11 Mar 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 17 Sep 2014. <>


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