Featured Projects

Acadia Point

Project: Acadia Point
Location of the Project: Aspotogan Peninsula, Nova Scotia
Client: Private Client
Company: Virginia Burt Designs
Geographical Coordinates: 44.5219391 N, -64.0667876 W
Member(s) of APALA Who Worked on the Project: Virginia Burt

PROJECT OVERVIEW:

Addressing the raw qualities Acadia Point’s landscape, the designer stripped away human overlay
returning the land to an unspoiled condition. The owners’ request was explicit: an uncontrived
approach, with visual dialogue between architecture, woods, and rocky shore. The design captures
essence of the Atlantic shore, removing inappropriate elements and exercising restraint with new,
allowing Nature to lead. The ultimate compliment was given when a local asked “where did the
landscape architect do their work?”

Located an hour south of Halifax on the Aspotogan Peninsula, this 20-acre headland was formerly
home to Canada’s last whaling station—spectacular in its setting, gruesome in its purpose.
Completely re- imagined and restored, Acadia Point is now the summer retreat of an urban couple.

Design Vision
In a highly collaborative effort, the landscape architect and client implemented a plan to heal the
scars of the severely disturbed landscape, at the same time heightening awareness of the site’s
exceptional diversity and beauty. To return the land to as natural a state as possible, work
included:
• Dismantling the abandoned plant;

• Burying utilities to clear sightlines;
• Replacing woodland damaged during construction;

• Easing transitions between house and surrounding wood, water, bedrock, and pebble beach;

• Respecting dramatic 270° ocean vistas, keeping new elements uncontrived, low in height, and
elegantly simple.

To ensure a slow, immersive experience of the site, an entry sequence was carefully orchestrated,
referencing Japanese principles of miegakure (“hide and reveal”). A long gravel road winds through
mossy forest, views of surrounding waters intentionally obscured. Walking toward the house along a
heavily planted and deliberately narrow path, ocean sounds and smells tantalize. At the top of the
front steps, the breezeway opens onto a stunning panorama of sea, rocks, and windswept spruce, the
unexpected “reveal” reached.

Down wide stone steps and enclosed by the L-shaped house, the organic, slate terrace was placed
just above sea-level, offering closer perspectives on wind, waves, sun, and moon. On the east side
of the house, a planted deck leads to the wild Atlantic side. One sheltered, one exposed, each
increases the sense nature’s duality.

A contemporary effect is achieved through the use of restrained woodwork, concrete, and untreated
raw finishes, uniting landscape and architecture. Features include:

• Utilizing onsite blast rock to form a breakwater;

• Board-finished concrete retaining walls, a sophisticated solution to protect deck and house;

• Narrow decks, designed to erase transition from inside to out while maintaining uncluttered
coastal views.

Environmental Restoration

Hired after site-planning and foundations were complete, the designer found machinery, blasting,
and burning had profoundly damaged thin soils and fragile root systems. Restoration and
conservation of vital ecological processes began immediately, including:

• Analysis of onsite conditions including salt/wind tolerance;

• Resolving impacted drainage and grading;

• Creative sourcing techniques to find un-sheared Christmas trees with shallow roots and
second-grade
conifers selected to harmonize with onsite trees;

• Use of groundcovers salvaged at a local quarry, scooped in vegetated mats, and placed to repair
disturbed sections;

• Blurring boundaries by weaving new plants and groundcover into the existing landscape.
Impact
A prominent headland visible from neighbouring harbour, road, and surrounding waters, Acadia Point
once held a whaling station important to the community. Abandoned and derelict, the plant had
long been a blemish on the landscape. Enhancing experience from land and sea—and healing a heinous
past—this place now inspires a rediscovery of nature and confers a sense of place. Raw beauty is
restored.

Acadia Point

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CSLA: Canadian Society of Lnadscape Architects AAPC: L'Association des architects paysagistes du Canada

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