Fogo Island: Modern Architecture in the North Atlantic
by Brian Lackey
An island off a bigger island at the edge of North America, Fogo is quite remote and requires a long drive and ferry ride to reach. With ten days set aside to explore Newfoundland and no real plans, I decided that I had time for a quick trip.
This small island in the North Atlantic relied on the cod fishing industry for hundreds of years before its collapse in the 1990s. As with many small communities across Newfoundland, the collapse hit hard and many people struggled to find new work.
Today, Fogo is an island in transition. Zita Cobb, after a successful career in the fiber optics industry on the mainland, moved back to her home on the island and founded a nonprofit—Shorefast—that is working to bring tourism and the arts to the island.
With Canadian architect Todd Saunders, the foundation built several artist studios on the island. Made with local materials as much as possible, the modern and minimalist structures mimic the simple wooden structures that have been built on the island for centuries.
The main feature of the island, however, is the Fogo Island Inn. Proceeds from this luxury hotel are reinvested in the island community and most of the furniture and textiles are created by local craftspeople.
The hotel is an expensive stay, with rooms starting at about $1500 per night, but you can get a taste of the experience with a meal in the dining room overlooking the North Atlantic for a fraction of the cost.
To reach Fogo Island, drive from one of Newfoundland’s three airports (St. John’s, Deer Lake, or Gander) to the Farewell Ferry. Each season has its own charm, but I’d suggest early June for the best chance at seeing enormous icebergs floating down from the Greenland Ice Sheet. And if the Fogo Island Inn is out of your budget, there are several AirBnB options on the island. Just make sure to book ahead.