The Arts Take Root in a Fishing Village With Studios by Todd Saunders


Long Studio. All images by Saunders Architecture

We have been watching the career of Todd Saunders with interest; two years ago we called the Canadian expat living in Norway the Best of Green Young Architect. He has just completed this stunning artist's studio on Fogo Island- a rock off the coast of Newfoundland and the last place you would expect something like this to show up on.
Writers studio in the Fogo Landscape

Fogo Island's fishing communities are struggling to survive after the collapse of the cod stocks, but they have a patron: Zita Cobb and the Shorefast Foundation, " a registered Canadian charity dedicated to promoting Fogo Island and Change Islands as geo-tourism destinations, by leading with the arts and building on the intrinsic cultural and ecological assets of the islands."

The studios designed by Todd Saunders will be used by visiting artists. The first of six, the Long Studio, opened in June. It was built by local trades and "combines a sensibility for local traditions with contemporary design, ecological sensitivity and green building standards."

From Evolo:

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.

Next up is the 200 square foot Writing Studio:

The small one room studio is a place for contemplation. The studio is a small enclosure with little disturbance that allows one to concentrate on the art of writing. We have decided to disconnect the studio with the land and place it on pilings in the water thus creating its own "island". A long plank walkway leaves the land to continue over a stretch of water to the actual studio. The exterior form is a simple box tilted upwards toward the view of the ocean. The interior is divided into two areas. The upper level is a wide and deep desk and is situated towards the view of the sea. To the right of the desk are small shelves where a writer can have their immediate material close at hand.

On the lower level we have made a small intimate library. A place where one can retreat from the "working space" and relax in a comfortable chair to read, day-dream, procrastinate and perhaps even enjoy a glass of whiskey. Here the writer can have their own library, and the space can be supplemented with books on Fogo Island and Newfoundland.

The foundation is following up with the five star Fogo Island Inn. So much credit is due to the Shorefast Foundation for doing this; between the end of the fisheries and the opprobrium of the seal hunt, the outports of Newfoundland need to find creative new ways to survive. Newfoundland has a strong artistic tradition to build on.

More in Evolo.

More by Todd Saunders:
Terrific Toilets by Todd Saunders and Tommie Wilhelmson
BlueSkyMod Prefab Cabin
This Month in Azure

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