Fogo Island Inn

By Finn MacLeod

The Fogo Island Inn
Iwan Baan
 

An unlikely venue for any inn, Fogo Island is a contemporary Scandinavian boutique hotel perched on a cliff overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean.

When describing the location of the Fogo Island Inn, “off the beaten path” is an understatement. Located in the far eastern reaches of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, nestled in ‘Joe Batt’s Arm’, a small town positioned due south of Greenland and the Arctic Circle, the Fogo Island Inn is as remote as they come.

Designed by Norwegian studio Saunders Architecture, the Fogo Island Inn stands with impressive fortitude atop a cluster of steel pillars on an outcropping of rock on the northern edge of Fogo Island. A simple, linear structure formed of two intersecting rectangular volumes, the inn echoes the jagged asymmetry of the landscape it inhabits, while infusing the topography with a thoroughly contemporary architectural aesthetic. Gone are the kitschy inns of remote communities past, replaced by Fogo Island Inn’s double-height glass curtain walls and stark white walls.

An elegant architectural gesture, the Fogo Island Inn appears like an iceberg in fog, hovering gracefully above the ground. Accessible only by a single road, the Inn is intentionally remote— its surrounds do not allow for parking—emphasizing its role as a place of respite and contemplation from urban living. Designed to capitalize on Newfoundland’s extended winter season, the Inn continues in the Canadian tradition and transforms the country’s most bitter cold weather into an opportunity for enjoyment, both in and outdoors. In the Summer, the landscape comes to life as snow melts away to reveal the Inn’s crisp white volumes and the island’s lush rolling landscape.

Established by the Shorefast Foundation, the region’s leading nonprofit arts and culture organization, the Inn is charged with a mission to cultivate and celebrate the Fogo Island creative community—one of Canada’s oldest settlements. The building responds to the Inn’s mission with bright, open public spaces for communal gathering; purpose-built gallery and exhibition spaces; and twenty-nine guest rooms, each featuring furniture and artwork by local craftsmen and artisans. The Inn’s gallery is curated by Fogo Island Arts, a local nonprofit; while its cinema screens films selected by the National Film Board of Canada.

Serving dual roles as an arts incubator and year-round hotel, the Fogo Island Inn includes a glass-enclosed restaurant and bar, library, gym, conference space, and an outdoor spa at roof level with saunas and hot tubs overlooking the ocean. Central to its design, views of Newfoundland and the Atlantic Ocean wrap the building, with indoor and outdoor viewing platforms in the hotel’s public and private spaces. With guestrooms ranging from 350 to 1100 square feet, visitors enjoy panoramic views from each room, including many floor-to-ceiling panoramic vistas from the comfort of the Inn’s Scandinavian-inspired open concept living rooms and sleeping quarters.

Minimizing its impact on the environment, the Inn uses a rainwater harvesting and distribution system for greywater; a solar-powered water heating and recirculation system; and solar-powered radiant heating throughout. Strategically elevated above the island’s rocky topography, the Inn’s steel pillars foster the continuation of the local ecosystem.

Dispersed across Fogo Island, a series of artist studios bolster the Inn’s creative brief. Also designed by Saunders Architecture, the four studio buildings house open-concept workspace for local artists, each showcasing a unique asymmetrical design in keeping with the Inn’s architectural vernacular. Deeply isolated, the studios are derivative of the architecture of fishing cabins and the island’s storied connection to Canada’s industry of Fishery. Modern, compact, and eye-catching, the studios stand in stark, exciting contrast to Newfoundland’s landscape.

Glowing like a lantern on the shoreline, the Fogo Island Inn is a beacon for locals and tourists alike. Drawing an unprecedented level of tourism to Canada’s easternmost community, the Fogo Island Inn has created a modest economic boom in Newfoundland while introducing a new architectural language to the region, reconnecting the region to its history of Nordic migration. A stone’s throw from Greenland and a short flight to Iceland and western Europe, the Fogo Island Inn sits squarely on Canadian soil, but tells a far more Scandinavian story.