Fogo Island Long Studio / Saunders Architecture

© Bent Rene´Synnevåg

Architects: Todd Saunders
Location: Fogo Island,
Project Area: 120 sqm
Design Year: 2008–2009
Construction Year: 2009–2011
Photographs: Bent Rene´Synnevåg


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.

floor plan

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.

© Bent Rene´Synnevåg

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

© Bent Rene´Synnevåg

The Long Studio

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.

© Bent Rene´Synnevåg

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.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Fogo Island Long Studio / Saunders Architecture" 13 Dec 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • Dariusz

    Looks great a first approach, nice concept, simple shape and love the black vs white. But I want to ask why would you want to clad an interior, quite modern kitchen and living space in that wooden cladding? It’s quite horrible and not an interior material at all.. At least not the way it was made. Fortunately I am not a fan of that lighting on the interior? was there 5 minutes to gather lighting and just install it? Just horrible! Yuck!

    • Danny

      As an art studio I think the materials are a good choice.
      If the finishing is too fine it might restrain the work at hand :) There’ll be spilt paint, saw dust, and noxious fumes – scrapes and dents. It would be easy to mistake this for a cottage…but it’s not.

    • Andrew

      This is a question of cultural differences, Dariusz. I am going to guess that you’re Polish?

      The architecht, Saunders, lives in Norway, and in Scandinavia wood is a common material for both interiors and exteriors.

      Canada and Norway have much in common, especially in terms of climate.

      I think you’re just narrow minded and lack experience. You should try to understand that other people have different legitimate views.

      • Dariusz

        Yes, born in Poland, raised and studied in Canada, so I do know about the Scandinavian similiarities. There is a limitless ways of creating a warm, wood interior.
        I actually love Sauders’ work – the portfolio is quite amazing. There’s beauty created when a material is in its natural state, unpainted. Just not a fan of this one project. Perhaps it was the client’s request or a lack of budget. Again, great building, but lacking interior.

      • Dariusz

        Also, I noticed that Sauders avoids the interior kitchen shots on his website. There’s one interior with the rolling walls shut. My guess, it’s not a favorite item.

      • AK

        i think your rude

      • AK

        that comment was directed at Andrew who is clearly stupid

      • Andrew


        I think you can’t spell. Also did you even bother to read the original comment? Dariusz is the one being narrow minded, I’m askin that he be more open. You, AK, are the exact opposite, close minded and ignorant.

    • LynGordon

      Seems the discussion got a bit derailed here. Instead of describing it as horrible and not interior material, and instead of responding “ad hominem”, putting Dariusz experience and mind into question, I want to know *what* it is you don’t like about the cladding.

      Is it the size of the boards? The white paint? I love the project as a whole, but I’m not such a big fan of the wide, dark stripes between the boards. At first I didn’t recognize the cladding as wood, and it turned me off a bit. I think they should be closer together, both for aesthetic reasons, but I’m also conserned that moist and dirt will collect in the groves between the boards.

  • Cane

    beautiful project!

    @ Dariusz: you first design and build something equivalent, and then you might come up like the “i-know-it-all-better-boy”, boy.

  • Scott

    I like that it rests gently on the rocks, as if it were another rock that landed on the landscape. I hope the design protects some of those outdoor spaces due to the high winds the climate there lends to.
    The interior lends itself to the carving method used that continues itself to the outside, or carries itself from outside to inside – making the space between inside and out blurred. One of the consequences from a finish perspective of formally making the space feel like a single volume carved out. Good project over all.

  • Martin

    Very nice, off course with these surroundings it’s a joy to design (and hard to mess up). The wooden interior gives a nice beachy ambiance, very appropriate to it’s environment.



  • blk

    why the hell would anybody build something there?

  • Andrew

    absolutely stunning photography.

    great sense of space and place. composition of elements. beautiful.

  • Josh

    I’m a little bit torn on this one. Overall it is a great project and I like how it gently touches the rocks, but at the same time I’m wondering if something embedded may have been the way to go.

    My main critique of the lightly touching the rocks is that the space beneath doesn’t seem usable from the pictures. I would love to sit underneath the building mass on the end that faces the water to greet the morning sun.

    • wpgmb

      that’s how they build on the coast of newfoundland. way less energy required to build over the rocks rather than in. you don’t use the space underneath when it’s so wet and windy.

  • Dariusz

    Nobody thinks that the lighting is an after-thought? I understand using a course material for the artist studio concept, but continuing this into the Kitchen cabinets. There must have been a cleaner, neater way to do this. I must be imagining the lines drawn on the cabinets, right? Beautiful building nonetheless, but only a few components.