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Strange and Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island

Part of the Art, Design, & Architecture Series at the Original Princess Cinemas​ • Co-Presented by Whiting Design

Architect Todd Saunders’ sculpture-like artist studios perched on the rocky shores of Fogo Island created a buzz among worldwide architecture fans when the first images were released. Since then, the four artists studios and the new Fogo Island Inn have been documented in more than 80 international magazines and blogs.

The striking buildings are located in an equally dramatic natural setting that is the rugged sub-arctic landscape of Fogo Island, a small, remote rocky outcrop off the coast of Newfoundland. The combination of sophisticated design and wilderness backdrop establishes a contemporary frame on an ancient landscape; one that embraces the excitement of living on the edge both in relation to nature and to modern design. The success of Todd Saunders’ designs re-brands Fogo Island as a geo-tourism destination. The Island community’s two thousand residents effectively host the project and, ultimately, have the most at stake.

Gorgeously photographed over all four seasons the film is a flowing, visual narrative that unfolds over time as the Fogo Island Inn is being constructed. Zita Cobb’s belief in the tension of opposites as a positive force in human experience is reflected in the film.  The Inn is totally modern yet filled with textures inherited from the past. The idea of moving forward while reaching back is tangible. Extensive interviews with Todd Saunders and Zita Cobb provide intimate insight into the personalities and motivations behind the creation of adventurous contemporary architecture. An extensive cast of local residents provides the real-world context in which the buildings exist.  This is a portrait of a little island that wants to be relevant in a big and current way.

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