Herb Enns
SHOAL LAKE                                                           

An island on Shoal Lake, Lake-of-the-Woods in North Western Ontario, Canada, is the setting for a series of uniquely personal architectural projects. Beginning in 1992, this remote wilderness setting has been a site for ongoing experiments in design and construction. The explorations at all scales—intimate stone stairways and interlocking wood decks, a series of docks and paths, and two pavilions of variant function—represent a transactional repository of almost two decades of architectural thought and discovery. A third and fourth building are now under development. Imagine a life-long process of gradual and staged interventions on the site, an architectural diary set down in wood, stone, metal, and glass.

Attempts to appreciate the full range of experience available to the visitors and inhabitants of the Experimental Buildings at Shoal Lake are a challenge. The Observer[AC1] comes to the scene with biases and imbedded neurological capacity[AC2] . They reconcile what they see with what they know. The scenes and atmospheres generate an effect in the mind—a destabilizing vantage point that begins to assign new connotations on an extant value system, the temporal cadence of the place allows for the mind to construct a new perceptual reality, the place triggers a trans-figurative sense of dislocation. With the way-points of normative life erased (submerged, forgotten, overruled, suppressed) the observer lays down her mnemonic conditioning and opens up to a range of new perceptual possibilities.