Called the Tower Studio, this geometric art retreat cuts a striking silhouette into the wild landscape of Fogo Island, which is one of the earliest inhabited areas of Canada. Designed by Saunders Architecture, the studio is one of six artists residences commissioned by the Shorefast Foundation and the Fogo Island Arts Corporation, which aim to create an economic and cultural rejuvenation of life on the island in responsible, self-sustaining ways that respect the tradition and history of the area.
The crisp vertical structure of Tower Studio stands in stark contrast to the surrounding landscape, but the light-filled structure provides resident artists with a connection to nature through its careful, site-specific layout. The 80 square meter building includes a roof terrace for 360 degree views of the island. A lower floor serves solely as storage space, leading up to a light-filled room covering two floors, with large wrap-around windows on its northern and western facades, to provide day-long diffuse lighting. The ingenious geometric lines of the Tower Studio make for a distinct structure which appears different from every vantage point.
All six studios are the work of Newfoundland-born architect Todd Saunders, whose work often includes dramatic, graceful geometric structures located within nature. Saunders’ work incorporates itself into the environment in a unique and careful manner. “The materials and construction methods chosen reflect that of the local architecture of Fogo Island,” he described to ArcSpace. “The environment will leave its marks on the studios by weathering the structures over time.” While they may appear very alien in the hardened landscape, Saunders is keen to emphasize “You can say the buildings are “strangely familiar,” they look strange but on closer inspection they are in fact built with very familiar methods. It feels like doing contemporary architecture but based on what’s been there before.”
Four of Saunders “strangely familiar” studios have been completed since the Fogo Island Arts Corporation was established in 2008. The extraordinary Long Studio the first to be completed, and has since been joined by the Squish Studio and a small dramatically positioned writer’s studio. Additionally, Saunders has designed an inn to house the visitors who Fogo Island hopes to attract to its cultural events, which is presently under construction.