Ghost 11: Architectural Laboratory

The annual Ghost Architectural Laboratory is an intensive two-week design-build internship led by internationally renowned architect and professor at Dalhousie University, Brian MacKay-Lyons. The lab functions as the research facility of Halifax-based MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Limited. Now in its 11th season (since 1994), this summer’s program ran from June 13-27, and was attended by 24 architects and architectural students from Mexico, Ireland, Kenya, Scotland, USA, and Canada.


The guest architect this summer was Francis Kéré, winner of the 2004 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, who practices in Burkina Faso and Berlin. The guest architectural historian of technology was Tom Peters from Switzerland. Also participating this summer was California architect Bob Benz and Gordon MacLean, master builder from Nova Scotia.


This year’s project involved the “re-raising” of a 19th-century octagonal barn built in 1888 by William B. Troop. Troop was inspired by a book written in 1849 by a New York City phrenologist named Orson Squire Fowler, called <I>A Home for All; or the Gravel Wall and Octagon Mode of Building<P>. Sadly, this recently de-registered heritage building was slated for destruction, so MacKay-Lyons had Robert Cram of Lunenburg disassemble its post-and-beam wood frame, and had it transported to the family farm in Upper Kingsburg, Lunenburg County, where the Ghost Lab takes place.


The initial design sessions focused on solving issues of a new building skin with fenestration, a new entry bridge, a new wind-bracing system, egress stairs, and a potential mezzanine. Following these sessions, the historic building was re-raised in eight days, and will begin its new life nestled in a valley at the edge of the sea overlooking the LaHave Islands, where it will become part of the Ghost campus. The structure will also be used for a wide range of community gatherings.


For more information, please visit