The Fogo Island Inn. Three years after construction began on this granite hillside in Joe Batt’s Arm, the centrepiece of a massive community revitalization project is finally nearing completion. For a sense of scale, note the construction workers dressed in orange and the electrician dangling from the rooftop.
The structure was designed by Todd Saunders, a Newfoundland and Labrador native who became an international architecture star after moving to Norway over a decade ago. The distinctive shape of the Inn reflects some of the structures and design aesthetics found on Fogo Island. This extended wing, which houses two floors of guest suites, bears a distinct resemblance to a (somewhat rickety) fishing stage.
This is the main dining area, jutting out from the main structure. Like the suites at the Inn, it features floor-to-ceiling windows for a fantastic ocean view. The restaurant, bar, art gallery, library and cinema sections of the Inn are all open to the public as well as guests.
The Inn uses no recirculated air, and each room has its own air-intake system. Here, an electrician rappels from the rooftop to investigate an issue with the intake fan in a fourth-floor suite.
These legs are 50-feet high, and drilled 30 feet into the ground. Most are structural and load-bearing, even a few of the ones that are off-angle by as much as seven degrees. It was an engineering challenge to make the off-angle legs meet the structure above in just the right place to properly support its weight.
Another section of the Inn with a “fishing stage” feel.
The idea for the Inn came from a community meeting in 2004, a few years after the Shorefast Foundation began spearheading educational initiatives on Fogo Island. A local woman stood up and said to Zita Cobb and the other Shorefast board members, “What you’re doing is great, but you’re just educating our children for jobs that don’t exist on Fogo Island. You people are smart - can’t you do something to create jobs here?”
A “selfie”, taken in one of the many tidal pools that surround the Inn.
The view from the ground floor.
This tiny graveyard (framed by the photographer’s feet) a few dozen metres away from the Inn caused a lengthy construction delay, as the province conducted a records search to determine who was buried in it.
... the Shorefast Foundation found the answer in a few hours, by calling the lady who buried two horses and a cat there.
Like any good home in rural N.L., the Fogo Island Inn has an outbuilding. This is where the Inn’s laundry facilities are housed, as well as a massive wood-stove, which provides all of the heat and hot water.
Construction at the Inn was in its final stages during our visit in mid-May. Here, a construction workers helps to prepare the parking lot.
Tony Cobb has been the project manager at the Inn since construction began. He is the youngest brother of Zita Cobb whose technology millions have fueled the Shorefast Foundation. Here, Tony Cobb shares some news on his smartphone with construction-team leaders.
There are interesting plant and rock formations all over the grounds surrounding the Inn, enough to keep the curious busy for days.
There are several reasons why the Inn management elected to use a wood-burning stove for central heat and hot water. Firstly, because of the traditional connection that wood burning has on Fogo Island. But also because of the environmental and social benefits. Wood burned at the Inn comes from N.L., instead of being imported from overseas. The people who cut the wood get paid, the people who transport the wood get paid, the people who saw it into pieces get paid. This kind of decision-making philosophy is evident in many aspects of the Inn’s design and operation.
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The CBC's Zach Goudie has this closeup look at the building of the Fogo Island Inn, which is complete after three years of construction
Designers, construction workers and tradespeople from all over the world were recruited to work on the Inn. At various times over the last three years, workers say they have heard a half-dozen languages spoken on-site, including German, Japanese and Italian. A group of thirty-odd Irishmen were still on the Island in mid-May as construction winds down. This photo of seven of them was taken at quitting time one afternoon.
The Inn takes on a different look in the grey afternoon light.
Architect Todd Saunders wanted the structure to look as if a child had placed it, ever so delicately, on the landscape. During construction, a temporary road made of ice, snow, and crushed gravel packed was built over a giant tarp, so heavy equipment could be moved into position without damaging the surrounding rocks.
A view to the ocean.
A close-up of the dining room. The design of the Inn incorporates many environmentally sustainable elements, such as a rainwater collection system (featuring the largest cistern in the province), which greatly lessens the environmental impact from kitchen and laundry facilities.
Looking east at the western face of the Inn.
A little perspective - cameraman Ted Dillon (in the foreground) stands six feet, two inches tall.
The Fogo Island Inn has its own diesel generator, with an automatic start-up during power outages. The evening after our tour, an outage struck around midnight and lasted until 6 a.m. the following morning. Every light in Joe Batt’s Arm was out … except at the Inn, which glowed like a lantern in the pitch dark.