Fogo Island of Newfoundland, Canada is home to many gentlefolk, old european traditions, and untainted landscapes, but it is now one of the many rural communities on the brink of poverty. With high unemployment and youth emigration, the island’s Shorefast Foundation hopes to restore funds and fascination to the island through a new Artist Residency Program.
The program invites artists of all varieties to live in the historic Newfoundland homes for several months while working in one of the six contemporary artist studios that skim the island’s coast. This cultural immersion provides a platform for inspiration with exposure to local artisans, peaceful ocean views and the refreshing inflection of the studio’s geometry.
Although currently based in Norway, the chosen architect Todd Saunders grew up in Newfoundland. His historic perspective allowed him to respect the locals and their culture while introducing a bit of spice. “It was almost like an Italian who moves away, comes back home and then cooks differently but with the same ingredients,” Saunders explained in an interview with Mason Journal. “I focused on creating something new with old or familiar means.”
The designs combine historic materials with contemporary lines to give this old world a new perspective. Common to Newfoundland waterfront construction, several of the studios float above the landscape on stilts. Inside, the momentum of the interior propels artists towards the angular windows that reveal the Atlantic Ocean and other architecturally unexplored horizons.
Clad in traditional wood, the studios provide great spaces to observe the transitioning environment through the seasons. Solar panels, rainwater collection, and wood stoves are several of the features that make the studios completely self-sufficient and aid in preserving the natural integrity of the island.