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Cape Breton golf course residences win national award

The Cabot Cliffs residences in Cape Breton are pictured. (Source: Cabot Cape Breton) The Cabot Cliffs residences in Cape Breton are pictured. (Source: Cabot Cape Breton)

The recent construction of seasonal homes at a Cape Breton golf course is proving to be a hole-in-one on the national stage.

The Governor General’s Medals in Architecture for 2024 highlighted 12 outstanding Canadian projects by architects. The awards, which are administered jointly with the Canada Council for the Arts, seeks to raise “public awareness of architecture as a vital cultural force in Canadian society,” according to the Royal Architecture.

Some recipients include the $51-million Churchill Meadows Community Centre and Sports Park in Mississauga, the $22-million Pumphouse in Winnipeg and the $1.25 million Garden Laneway House in Toronto.

The Cabot Cliffs Residences, Halfway Hut and Pro Shop also secured the honour, the only Maritime spot to earn such a recognition this year.

“The jury noted the contextual response and materiality, as a refreshing departure for this landscape-driven recreation residence,” the award website reads. “The simple wood vernacular traditions of Cape Breton aligns with the dramatic landscape.

“The jury also noted the social connections offered by the communal kitchen, dining and living areas, which allows this village to go beyond typical recreation properties. The result is an architecture that is rooted in the place, offering a connection with the natural setting - complete with natural pathways and views to the ocean.”

The project, designed by FBM Architecture – a Halifax-based company – started in the planning phase in 2019 and officially opened its doors to seasonal residents in October 2023.

“We built a cliffs course in 2016 and we wanted to start building a community,” said Kendall Clancy, general manager of Cabot Cape Breton. “That started with residential homes. It’s stunning.

“It has laid an amazing foundation for building out that side of the resort. We’re continuing to look at the programming and amenities. We added a restaurant for this season.”

The Cabot Cliffs residences in Cape Breton are pictured. (Source: Cabot Cape Breton)

Susan Fitzgerald, architect and design director with FBM, has worked with Cabot Cape Breton for several years and leapt at the opportunity to create the seasonal residences.

“We thought of it as a village on the edge of the ocean,” she said. “It many ways it’s very similar to a lot of architecture in the Maritimes. We took a lot of inspiration from many coastal villages around Nova Scotia and the incredible landscape was an inspiration.

“It’s quite a quiet project in many ways. It works closely with its setting and landscape and respects those and I think that’s important for architecture.”

The Cabot Cliffs residences in Cape Breton are pictured. (Source: Cabot Cape Breton)

Fitzgerald said the recognition for the project is a “real honour” for her.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “It’s particularly good because the jury are your peers across the country so it’s very meaningful.”

Clancy said they plan to work with FBM again on future projects.

“Because they’re local, they really understand our dream and our desire to be of the place,” she said. 

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