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2014 MCHAP.emerge

Fogo Island Studios (Long, Squish, Bridge, Tower)

Saunders Architecture

Fogo Island, Canada

June 2011


Todd Saunders / Saunders Architecture


Sheppard Case Architects Inc. (Associate Architect (Long Studio)), DBA Consulting Engineers Ltd. (Structural engineering (Long Studio)), Core Engineering Inc (Services Engineer (Long Studio))


The Shorefast Foundation Fogo Island Arts


Bent René Synnevaag


Instead of a single design at one location, six sites across the Fogo Island were chosen to host a portion of Fogo Island Art’s work spaces. The six studios range in size from two hundred square feet to twelve hundred square feet (twenty to two hundred square meters) in order to accommodate the diverse range of artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians, curators, designers, and thinkers participating in the residency program. The siting of the studios adjacent to the communities of Deep Bay, Shoal Bay, Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo, Little Seldom and Tilting allows the artists to live within the various communities and interact, on a daily basis, with the local residents. In all six studios, the intent was to sample and allude to local construction techniques: the spruce wood shell that cites the clapboard of the houses; the stilt construction of Newfoundland’s waterfront fishing sheds; the proportions of the volumes and skewed frames, particularly in the case of the smaller studios. All six studios are one hundred per cent off the grid with no connection to public services: composing toilets, solar panels for electricity, wood stoves for heat, and in the Long Studio rainwater is collected from the roof and stored in tanks in the concealed storage rooms to provide water for the shower and small kitchen. The environmental impact of the construction was minimized by the use of local materials, which were largely transported to remote building sites by hand or by skidoo over the snow in the winter months to prevent or reduce damage to delicate lichens, moss and berries.


The Shorefast Foundation believes that there is inherent, irreplaceable value in rural places and that the key to sustainability of these communities lies in re?discovering their intellectual heritage and cultural wisdom, fostering the talent, knowledge, specificity and abundance that exists naturally in each place. It supports three distinct but related initiatives to achieve this on Fogo Island. Firstly, the development of a geotourism industry, with the construction of the Fogo Island Inn and the creation of a guest experience that is recognized among the best in the world. Secondly, the development of an internationally recognized contemporary arts program - Fogo Island Arts - focused on bringing artists to the Island as part of a comprehensive artists?in?residence program that brings the world to Fogo Island – and Fogo Island back to the world. Thirdly, the development of a micro?lending program where entrepreneurs from Fogo Island can establish and grow their own businesses. The design and construction of the studios as work spaces, along with the restoration of existing houses as living spaces for Fogo Island Arts, was the initial step in implementing this program.


The first of these studios, the Long Studio, was completed in June 2010. The Bridge Studio, Tower Studio and Squish Studio were opened in June 2011. The Short Studio and Fogo Studio have been designed and will be built as the needs of Fogo Island Arts grow. The four completed studios, besides becoming well used work spaces, are also new reference points in the landscape of Fogo Island. Importantly, knowledge and confidence gained by the local construction crews during the construction of the studios was transferred to their work on the Fogo Island Inn. The studios also were a template and testing ground for the design, selection and sourcing of materials, and development of details used in the Fogo Island Inn.

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