Fogo Island Artist Studios, Rural Canadian Building Photos, Design Images

Fogo Island Artist Studios, Newfoundland, Canada

Fogo Island Artist Studios in Newfoundland design by Saunders Architecture

Various locations on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada

Designed 2008/2009 & Construction 2009/2011

Design: Saunders Architecture

Fogo Island Artist Studios, Newfoundland

Photos by Bent Rene Synnevag

24 Jan 2011

Fogo Island Artist Studios


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 Artist Studios, Newfoundland

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.

Fogo Island Artist Studios, Newfoundland

The Shorefast Foundation works with the people of Fogo Island to find ways to preserve this special place and this special culture. They have chosen to find new paths by leading with the arts. Saunders Architecture want to create structures that respect where they’ve come from and dignify this landscape that is so fragile yet so fearsome. They want structures that touch their imaginations and help maintain a connection between their past and our future.

Fogo Island Artist Studios, Newfoundland

Project Description

The following 3 buildings are a selection of six artist studios Saunders Architecture have designed for the Shorefast Foundation on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada. The Fogo Island Arts 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.

Fogo Island Artist Studios Fogo Island Studios Newfoundland Fogo Island Studios Fogo Island Artist Studios Canada

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.

Fogo Island Studios Newfoundland Fogo Island Studios Fogo Island Artist Studios Canada Fogo Island Artist Studios

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.

There are 3 studios: 1) The Long Studio (featured), 2) The Tower Studio, and 3) The Bridge Studio all to be located on various dramatic sites.

Fogo Island Artist Studios Fogo Island Studios Newfoundland Fogo Island Studios Fogo Island Artist Studios Canada

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.

Fogo Island Artist Studios Fogo Island Studios Newfoundland Fogo Island Studios Fogo Island Artist Studios Canada

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 Tower Studio – 80m2

Fogo Island The Tower Studio

This one studio is a vertical icon in an otherwise horizontal landscape. Often the best way to accentuate a landscape is to set in an object that is in complete contrast to its surroundings. Here Saunders Architecture wish to make a 3-story studio.

The general impression of the building is an object standing tall and proud in this often-harsh landscape. The form is composed of twisting planes reminiscent of brain-teasing origami. All four facades are different. The tower will always appear tall; yet will look different from all directions.

The lower floor is a simple storage area or extra studio space. One climbs a stair to enter a double height room that goes over two floors. A large window is on the north and wraps around the western façade. The view is to the north and towards the sea, thus providing the diffused daylight preferred by most artists.

There is a sculptural-looking stair that goes up 6 metres and opens onto the roof terrace. The roof terrace is an excellent place for an artist to work when there are warm days in the later spring until the early Fall. This vantage point allows for spectacular 360-degree views of the dramatic surrounding landscapes.

The Bridge Studio – 20m2

Fogo Island The Bridge 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. Saunders Architecture 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 Saunders Architecture 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 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.

The Short Studio:
Fogo Island The Short Studio

The Squish Studio:
Fogo Island The Squish Studio Fogo Island The Squish Artists Studio

For more information on the Fogo Island Arts Corporation, please contact Elísabet Gunnarsdóttir, Director, Tel. 1 (709) 270 0011, elisabet(at)

Fogo Island Artist Studios – Building Information

Client: Shorefast Foundation, ( and The Fogo Island Arts Corporation

Architect: Saunders Architecture, Bergen, Norway
Principal Architect: Todd Saunders
Assistants: Ryan Jørgensen, Attila Béres, Colin Hertberger, Cristina Maier, Olivier Bourgeois, Pål Storsveen, & Nick Herder
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.
Text: Saunders Architecture & Shorefast Foundation

Photography: Bent Rene Synnevåg ( and Saunders Architecture (

Fogo Island Artist Studios images / information from Saunders Architecture

Studio on Fogo Island – 1 Aug 2016

Location: Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada

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Website: Newfoundland