To follow on from two previous posts featuring the artist’s studios on Fogo Island (off the coast of Newfoundland) designed by Saunders Architecture of Norway, here’s what was actually the first of them to be completed.
Similar to local fisherman’s houses, The Long Studio sits on stilts and is clad in rough-sawn pine and whitewashed spruce on the interior.
The plan is divided into three: an entrance porch, courtyard and studio space, with utilities recessed into the wall.
The building generates power using solar panels, treats its own waste and uses both rain and grey water.
The Long Studio is isolated from the community, accessed only by a ten minute walk.
The Fogo Island project also includes the design of a 29-room inn for artists and visitors.
The Long Studio is the first to be completed for the Arts Residency Project by the Fogo Island Art Corporation.
The following is from the architects:
Long Studio is the first manifestation of a plan to breathe new life into Fogo Island. Remotely situated off the coast of Newfoundland, Fogo has been imperiled by the collapsed fishing industry and out-migration. A private foundation plans to restore Fogo’s vibrancy and protect its culture with a unique Arts Residency Program. A powerful combination of stunning architecture, art and nature, far from the distractions and stresses of any city, will draw the participation of A-list artists and high-end tourists, generating jobs and rebounding the island’s economy.
Fogo Island is an elemental place of subtle and abiding beauty. Eleven communities comprising 3000 people live unpretentiously on the rugged, windswept terrain, far from the influence of the outside world. Therefore, the project required a very particular architectural sensibility: imaginative enough to attract international acclaim and also sensitive to Fogo’s delicate social and geographical ecology. Rather than constructing a single edifice, residences, studios and a five-star inn will be scattered across the island, so that guests will connect with its various villages.
Actually completed in June 2010, Long Studio is the first piece of this master plan. The 120m2 building is one of six studio designs that can be reproduced as the colony grows. It was pre-fabricated by local builders in workshop during the winter, and then reconstructed on-site in the spring. No road leads to Long Studio; it is a ten-minute walk from where the nearest track ends, ensuring complete physical and mental isolation. Like a shard of rock, its minimal, elongated form floats over the rough volcanic boulders, delightfully stretching airborne towards the Atlantic, with breakers incessantly crashing thunderously at its foot. The studio is a husk of blackened rough-sawn pine with an interior lining of whitewashed spruce. Its linear form is assertive, but its rugged surfaces and its off-the-shelf fixtures and finishings are unpretentious.
The entire southern wall is mute, like an arm extending permanent shelter. Three zones encourage indoor and outdoor activities and engagement with the surroundings. A covered “porch” marks the entrance to the studio. A central cut-out opens the studio to Fogo’s long summer days. An enclosed, trapezoidal box at end of the studio offers protection and solitude. Large windows at both ends and a skylight in the roof flood the interior with natural light and views and also facilitating the transport of large artworks and materials. The structure is unobstructed, maximizing wall and floor space for artist intervention.
Storage, a composting-toilet and washbasins are tucked unobtrusively into a one-meter recess in the wall, avoiding visual distraction.
Like all the new buildings for the project, Long Studio utilizes indigenous building techniques. Locally sourced wood cladding echoes the fishermen’s clapboard houses. Because the ground is too uneven and impenetrable, the studio stands on wood stilts just like Fogo’s traditional waterfront huts. This also allows the forceful winds to slip underneath the building rather than beating at its wall. The environment will leave its mark on the studio, weathering its wood over time.
The 100% off-the-grid studio produces its own power and treats its own waste, with no reliance on public services. Heat is produced from solar panels on the roof and a small wood stove. Rainwater is collected from the roof, stored in tanks in concealed storage rooms, and ultimately supplied to the shower and kitchenette. The studio has a composting toilet and grey water is treated on-site. The studio has been featured in a number of countries, in as diverse publications as Domus, Wallpaper, Fast Company and The New York Times, so that the initiative has already succeeded in transforming Fogo into an internationally coveted tourist destination.
Few might know Fogo, a small and secluded island off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada, and even fewer will have visited it. This North Atlantic piece of land is the home to the Fogo Islanders, a native people, who through the centuries have adapted to the island’s harsh climate and have developed their own traditional way of life, built mainly around cod fishing.
When the Shorefast Foundation launched plans for an inn and a series of artists’ studios on various Fogo locations, approaching Saunders about it roughly four years ago, the architect immediately jumped to the opportunity. The organisation is committed to preserving the Islanders’ traditions, supported by local fibre optics businesswoman and one of the richest women in Canada, Zita Cobb, and aims at rejuvenating the island through the arts and culture. However, this 2008 commission had an additional and far more personal resonance to the architect. This would be a chance for not only experimenting with traditional architectural forms, methods and materials in a unique location, but also for working in Newfoundland, where Saunders grew up.
The fragile and gorgeous nature of Fogo was key to the brief’s development. “It is so beautiful there, but it’s a different, very rough kind of beauty”, Saunders says. His concept for the studios revolved around creating a series of strong geometric shapes, which would create a contrast, but without competing with the surrounding environment. Orientated towards the sea and used from spring through to autumn, from those studios the residents would be able to experience a range of climatic transitions and seasonal changes. Placed in remote locations within the island, the studios are set to compliment the artists’ residences, which are being created by restoring a number of traditional Newfoundland homes within the island communities.