Continuing our profile on Newfoundland native Todd Saunders‘ exquisite series of Fogo Island studios, Georgia Nowak takes to the Bridge, a secular yet spiritual work space for international artists-in-residence. Established by the Shorefast Foundation in 2010, not only have the studios brought acclaimed artists to the remote Fogo Island, they have also attracted tourists and design enthusiasts, while rejuvenating the local community’s social, cultural and economic identity. Treading “ever so softly” on the landscape, the Fogo Island Arts studios become sculptural forms in the larger landscape. Last month, we visited the Long Studio, the first of four studios built so far. When seen from various viewpoints on the island, the appearance of the studios constantly shifts. They are independent of each other, relating closely to their site-specific surrounding topography and views. Yet, their muted colour palette unites the studios together, connecting the built forms back to the landscape – white disappears into the snow and black reflects the darkness of the island’s rocks and ocean.
Inside Area: 28.5 m2 Total Footprint: 48.8 m2 Completed: 2011
Solar cells generate power for the Bridge Studio, a wood-clad parallelogram which hovers above the rocky landscape below. Hanging on the hillside, the Bridge connects to a section of rock face – you enter on one level before walking up two steps to a viewing platform and study nook. The Bridge Studio has two levels under one sloped roof: an upper area with a large framed window and a built-in timber desk; and downstairs on the entry level is a long counter and wood-burning stove. An abstracted and highly-restrained form, the Bridge studio is a timber box. It is a compact and contemporary structure that nonetheless recalls a traditional Newfoundland fishing “stage” or wooden vernacular building. Once upon a time, fisherman would clean and salt the once abundant codfish in these “stages” and this history resonates in Saunders’ design of the Bridge and of the series of studios as a whole. The Bridge Studio, named once again for its form, bridges over a hillside onto the waters of an inland pond. The form was based purely on the singular function of the studio, where you enter on one level and walk up two steps to a single work desk, “almost like an alter in a church.”
Many thanks to Todd Saunders and to Jack Stanley at Fogo Island Arts. To view more of Saunders Architecture’s work, visit: saunders.no and to find out more about Fogo Island Arts (including how to apply for one of these phenomenal artist residencies!), visit: fogoislandarts.ca. Photographs of the Bridge Studio by Bent Rene Synnevåg. Stay tuned for our next instalment of our Less is More feature on Fogo Island artist studios in the coming weeks.