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Find 'Modernism's Poetry' in This $6.1M Nova Scotia Estate

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It's a familiar tale: a jaw-dropping custom house gets a multi-page spread in Architectural Digest and, like—snap—that the place gets thrown onto the market. But for this particular mansion, a salt-sprayed sprawler among the granite crags of Nova Scotia, where rain-filled pools dribble toward the Atlantic and where foam and tumult kick back onto the bluffs, there's more to tell. In 2000 an Atlanta-based tax attorney and his wife, a lawyer, went looking for land to build their dream retirement house, starting their search in Middle-of-nowhere, Maine, and ultimately snagging 40 wild peninsula acres of eastern Canada's Ketch Harbor. Then came the fun part: courting the architect of their fantasy (spoiler: it involves a helicopter ride) and somehow building a house that's both anchored in the terrain and seemingly raised above it.

The pair snagged the property, which abuts a 900-acre Provincial Park and boasts an unbroken, two-mile line-of-site to the next town over, and began the process of wooing the architect of their dreams: Alexander Gorlin. The owners were entranced by Gorlin's pared-back aesthetic, and were "extremely comfortable on his views of a potential modern house structure, including poured concrete walls, and expansive walls of glass." After cold-emailing the architect with their proposal, the couple flew Gorlin out to Halifax, put him on a helicopter and, propellor blades shwooping overhead, showed off the acreage where, hopefully, his next residential design would go. According to a feature in the Feb. 2014 Arch Digest, Gorlin "points to a rocky ocher shelf created by receding glaciers and [...] tells his new client 'That's where the house should go.'"

And so it did. The owners wanted the home to sit unobtrusively on the wilds—they're "very similar to the Scottish Highlands," the owner says—and had no desire to "intrude on the solemness" of the site, or take away from the surroundings that, in the owner's words, were "so stark and yet visually magnificent." Gorlin translated that overrun "solemness" into a gray granite base, poured concrete walls, and an undulating zinc roof, which "weathers to a beautiful light blue-gray hue," as the owner puts it. Gorlin tells AD: "My greatest challenge was to make the house appear both rooted to the land and resting weightlessly upon it."

The interiors are similarly unobtrusive: unadorned, with a slickness that enhances the stormy movement outside its glass walls. "I do not enjoy clutter, glitziness or extensive decoration. I enjoy simplicity and openness," the owner writes. So there's no chandelier or family photos, and little in the way of color. The place itself seems to be just ocean—"If the earth was not curved one could see Ireland"—and limestone. Lots of limestone. 123 tons (12,000 square feet) of limestone, to be precise, quarried from Bulgaria, processed in Italy, and bought in Atlanta, from—fun fact—the owner's "Little Brother" Kevin, who he met decades ago through Atlanta's Big Brother's-Big Sister's Program. In all, it was a custom build worthy of an AD feature, designed from the studs up for what the family needed.

So why sell it? Two years ago, the owner's wife died. "Now when I visit," he explains, "while the view and surroundings are stunning, and the house is magnificent, I feel that there is a significant missing aspect. I would like to put these feelings behind me and move on."

The house, a suite of interlocking pavilions measuring some 6,000 square feet, is an homage to "modernism's poetry," as Gorlin tells AD. "I designed the house as a series of discreetly linked pavilions on two levels, each with a separate function and angled toward a different focal point. You still have a panoramic view, but it has a narrative, like the panels of an altar triptych."

So how much for this lick of limestone in the Canadian lowlands? $6.7M CAD, or roughly $6.1M.

· 115 Gill Cove Road, Ketch Harbour, NS [Royal LePage]
· Alexander Gorlin Builds a Secluded Home on the Nova Scotia Coast [Arch Digest]