photographer: Bent Rene´Synnevåg and Saunders Architecture
Various locations on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada
Designed 2008/2009 & Construction 2009/2011
Fogo Island lies outside of Newfoundland, Canada and is home to a gentle, independent people who have lived for centuries between wind and waves in pursuit of fish. Fogo Islanders live in the untamed landscape of the North Atlantic. The people are subtle and unpretentious yet have seen their traditional way of life by threatened by forces largely beyond their control.
Fogo Island is an elemental place of subtle and abiding beauty – a place where time is not obliterated by the circulation of everything. Its people are inextricably bound to this place where they belong. They are a culturally rich and resourceful people who live in close connection with each other and with their people who have come before.
The Shorefast Foundation works with the people of Fogo Island to find ways to preserve this special place and this special culture. We have chosen to find new paths by leading with the arts. We want to create structures that respect where we’ve come from and dignify this landscape that is so fragile yet so fearsome. We want structures that touch our imaginations and help maintain a connection between our past and our future.
The following building is a selection of six artist studios we have designed for the Shorefast Foundation on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada. The project is the basis for an Arts Residency Program starting in 2010. Studios will be built in remote settings on Fogo Island and traditional Newfoundland homes in various communities will be restored to become artists' residences. Artists will come from around the world to live and work in the area for months at a time.
The idea behind the forms of the various studios was to create a bold geometric structure to starkly contrast, yet lay silently in the striking natural environment. The main concept behind the layout of the artist studios was to observe the surrounding environment during its transition through the various seasons in which the studios will be in use: spring, summer and fall.
The studios are all oriented towards the sea and elevated above the ground to provide the resident artist with a feeling of being unobstructed and unbound. The materials and construction methods chosen reflect that of the local architecture of Fogo Island. The environment will leave its marks on the studios by weathering the structures over time. All studio are 100% off-the-grid and produce their own power and recycle of of their own waste.
The Long Studio – 120m2
The concept of the long studio responds to the transition of the seasons. The studio is organized in a linear from that consists of three different spaces. An open but covered area representing the spring marks the entrance to the studio and the beginning of the seasonal activity. The central portion is left open and mostly exposed to be fully immersed in all that is offered by the long summer days on Fogo Island. The end and main body of the studio is fully enclosed to provide an area of protection and solitude from the outside environment while still providing a connection to the landscape through a strategically framed view of the dramatic surrounding.
The long linear structure of this artist studio maximizes the amount of open wall and floor space. Large windows at either end and a skylight on the roof of the studio allows the maximum amount of natural light to flood the space. We have made one of the walls 1m deep to house storage, toilets and washbasins, with doors that are flush to the wall, thus avoiding any visual distraction inside the space.
The studios are placed on pillars at the end towards the sea, while the entrance area has a small concrete foundation for anchoring the construction to the landscape. With this type of construction, the studios can be placed in almost any place on the island. In addition, this allows for the studios to be pre-fabricated in a local workshop during the winter months, and then placed in the landscape in the spring.
The Fogo Island Arts Corporation
The specially designed contemporary spaces along with the renovated traditional buildings will house two parallel programs run by the Fogo Island Arts Corporation. First, The Residency program will be open to international contemporary artists of various disciplines that will be invited to spend some months living and working in the communities around Fogo Island.
Second, the Production program will organize workshops, art projects, seminars and exhibits in partnership with professionals of different backgrounds. The two programs will interact on all levels and work in close dialogue with each other. Both programs will focus on locally rooted and site-specific themes inspired by this unique place and it’s people as well as reach out to the International Contemporary Art Scene.
Contemporary artist and innovators will be invited on a temporary basis to make this quality design and unique location their own. Fogo Island will be used as reference for their creations of meaningful glimpses into what was and what is – and whatever there is to come.
Text: Saunders Architecture & Shorefast Foundation
Design team: Saunders Architecture:
Principal Architect: Todd Saunders
Assistants: Ryan Jørgensen, Attila Béres, Colin Hertberger, Cristina Maier, Olivier Bourgeois, Pål Storsveen, & Nick Herder
Client: Shorefast Foundation, and The Fogo Island Arts Corporation
Project partners: Prime Consultant: Sheppard Case Architects, St.John's Newfoundland
On-site supervisor: Dave Torraville
Builders: Arthur Payne & Edward Waterman
Structural Engineer: DBA Consulting Engineers
Mechanincal & Electrical Engineer: Core Engineering Inc.