Fogo Island Inn by Saunders Architecture

, , , , By Alexandre


Fogo Island Inn is the latest addition to an ongoing art residency program established in Newfoundland, Canada. Saunders Architecture is behind the design of the 29-room hotel remotely located on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

The fantastic Inn is rapidly becoming a cultural attraction for its brilliant and refined architecture, as well as its social purpose and dedication to its local community. 

Four stories tall, the inn’s X-shaped plan is formed by the superposition of two elongated bars.  The inn is a fully contemporary structure, built using modern methods. Local builders and craftspeople worked together to create a contemporary structure incorporating incredible quality in all the details of the exterior of the building. Elegantly clad in white-painted wood, the lookout’s viewing platform is projected far out above a steep fjord.

Responding to the local vernacular of building on stilts, Fogo Island Inn’s volumes are supported by a dozen of narrow columns drilled into the bedrock, without impacting the adjacent lands, lichens and berries.




Views of the land and the ocean are highlighted throughout, so guests continually confront the beautiful though inhospitable terrain. Each bed of the 29 guestrooms looks out towards the Atlantic Ocean, showing off through a spectacular point of view the beauty of the northern landscapes that lies at the heart of Saunders’s architecture.




The Inn includes a lobby, a library, a small movie théâtre, an art gallery and a sauna and spa facility on the top of the building, as well as a restaurant directed by one of Canada’s best chefs, Murray McDonald.




This use of local building methods continues with the Inn’s interior, which is brought to life with soft fabrics and warm materials. All of the interior accents, including the hand-stitched quilts, hooked rugs, wallpapers and furnitures, were crafted by local artisans in collaboration with a team of international architects and interior designers (see the Fogo Island Inn Collection here).

The hanging light fixtures in the dining room are an amazing piece of art and a nice reminder of the cultural identity of the region. They were fashioned from ordinary rope, and they form an elaborate, airy pattern that brings to mind the making of fishing nets or sailing knots.



As the building is approached, its appearance changes subtly, the strong and minimalist form gives way to a tactile, material effect, the ghostly white shape becomes comprehensible. Saunders and his team designed the facades using an inventive pattern of horizontal shiplap and vertical spruce boards milled in the region. With both the studios and the Inn, Saunders uses architecture to express an essential fact about life in the region, in which dwellings create a strong barricade and safe refuge against constantly changing weather conditions.


From Fogo Island Inn:

“The Fogo Island Inn has many things to feel good about. It is a gem of contemporary architecture and at the same time is a place that is “made of us”; made of the traditions and lived experiences of the island. It is a place that was created with deep sensitivity to the natural and social ecology of the island; a place that offers guests an exquisite nest from which to feel the harmonizing power of the North Atlantic…

But perhaps the most important thing to feel good about the Inn is its social purpose. The Fogo Island Inn is a trust whose beneficiary is the Shorefast Foundation, whose mandate is the economic well-being of the local community. All surpluses from the Inn will flow through to the charity and be reinvested back into the community. There are no investors seeking a return on their investment.”

Read more here.


Photos: Iwan Baan and Alex Fradkin via Archdaily


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