Twenty + Change: Peter Braithwaite Studio
The studio’s capabilities span from architecture to construction, industrial design and building.
Since 2015, Nova Scotia firm Peter Braithwaite Studio has been driven by a desire to address the ecological impact of architecture. While many sustainability-oriented practices “revolve around the production and implementation of gadgets and technological innovations that reduce the mechanical or energy requirements of the buildings,” says Braithwaite, he wants to move towards “a clear and harmonious integration” between structure and nature. This is fuelled by a life-long interest in “how our urban environments sustain culture and life.”
The studio’s capabilities span from architecture to construction, industrial design and building. That allows the team “to create work that acts as an active participant in the natural landscape, rather than [as] barriers to biodiversity within our urban and peri-urban environments,” says Braithwaite. As the practice grows, they are increasingly finding clients who share this vision.
In both residential and public projects, Braithwaite’s designs embody the essence of Canadian modernity: they harmonize with their local environment, while displaying a deep understanding for what people require from contemporary spaces, both functionally and aesthetically. Houses are built into and around the landscape, in materials that give them a sense of belonging within their settings. Views and privacy are balanced in each location. Caribou Point Studio, in Pictou, Nova Scotia, places two distinct volumes at slight angles away from each other, providing privacy within the space but with glazed openings directed towards the surrounding hills. Narrow light slits emphasize the height of the roofs, angled steeply against accumulating snow.
Braithwaite’s graduate thesis proposed the design of a technical college campus in Detroit, with a structure that mirrored the sloped site. Braithwaite began by studying the current relationship between Detroit’s built and natural environments. This enabled him to propose a “new urban topology [that] displays the influence the campus could have in promoting land development in the City’s residential areas,” supporting the city’s transformational goals.
Braithwaite’s interest in urban sustainability has him heading back to school: he’s recently been awarded a Killam Doctorate Scholarship, a Nova Scotia Graduate Studies Scholarship, and a Dalhousie President’s Award to undertake an interdisciplinary PhD program. He plans to investigate the relationship between architecture and biodiversity within peri-urban environments—all while putting his research to the test in his studio’s work.
This profile is part of our August 2021 feature story, Twenty + Change: Emerging Talent.