A luxury hotel is the best ally for the sustainability of an island and a Canadian population, and is also a first class architectural spectacle.
Can a hotel contribute to the maintenance and support of a population, while safeguarding the natural status of the environment? It seems so, or at least they think so in Newfoundland, Canada, where we visited this week a very special place, where a small group of people can enjoy unrepeatable views of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, with the good taste in your mouth that remains when you taste something exclusive and respectful with the environment.
We have been, on other occasions, in the very extensive region of Canada, within its populous cities and, now, we are going to give ourselves three days in absolute silence, where civilization only arrived to provide the rest of the raw material (derivatives of the seal, salmon or cod) and whose settlements were temporary, not permanent. Today, the inhabitants of the island have found a new means of subsistence, one that they surely had not foreseen: a luxury hotel.
The Fogo Island Inn Hotel was born from the Shorefast Foundation, whose name «shorefast» is a direct reference to the mooring that is used for the traditional cod traps used by the island’s inhabitants, a symbol of their claims, which are none other than uphold the idiosyncrasy of the community and its culture. To do this, they promoted this magnificent hotel, respectful of the environment, with native labor and supplied for the most part by personnel and elements created by companies on the island.
A clear example is the building’s architect, Todd Saunders, born in Newfoundland, although he has developed his professional career in Norway (a few kilometers away…). His involvement in the project has led to the development of an “X” shaped property where one side reaches two stories high, where the common use spaces are located, and the other reaches four. On this side, parallel to the coast, there are 29 hotel rooms, all with ocean views and with surfaces between 32 and 102 square meters.
Contemporary and eye-catching
The hotel complex does not neglect contemporary aesthetics, clearly identifiable in its flatly parallelepiped shape, whose impressive white volume seems to emerge from the irregular rocks that surround it, while large floor-to-ceiling windows allow its inhabitants to glimpse the picture behind protective glass. At one end of the building is a cantilever supported by metal pillars, cleverly angled to simulate wooden logs that support the main body. At the other end of the “X”, its little brothers do the same, a brillante idea that brings us closer to the first temporary constructions on the island, where it was about altering the settlement site as little as possible.
In the common areas there is an art gallery with a very island name (Fogo Island Arts), a library and a spectacular double height dining room with vaulted ceiling. It has huge windows where you can contemplate icebergs, whales or the wild gales in the area, and in which some very original chandeliers by the Dutch designer Frank Tjepkema stand out. The artist used handmade fishing ropes, intertwined with local flowers and executed by his own hand, with the help of residents, a community that does not reach 2,600 people (he tells us on his website).
Sustainable and respectful with the environment
From the beginning of the project, the different professionals got down to work to create a self-sustaining space. Thus, the windows have an insulating rating equivalent to those of triple glass, the metal structure is very well preserved, protecting it from highly aggressive corrosion in marine environments, the rainwater is collected in two tanks in the basement, where it is filtered to its use in laundry and toilets or as a heat sink in kitchen appliances.
Of course, it has 68 solar panels that provide enough energy for heating sanitary water and for radiant floor heating (very important in winter). The design of the walls guarantees acoustic insulation between rooms and at the same time allows guests to enjoy the sound of the waves, a prime incentive for reading or dreaming. As if this were not enough, the calorific contribution is supported by wood boilers located in a building annexed to the complex.
Sustainable and ecological
The company responsible for the installation of these sustainability elements is called Sustainable EDGE, they took care of the envelope, the energy and water systems and the ventilation. They were responsible for implementing a natural ventilation system that brings in air from outside, recovering heat and reducing heating and cooling loads. To do this, the system uses the exterior wooden cladding, in which registers allow air to enter and exit according to the needs of the property, these registers reach the rooms carved into the interior wooden cladding in the form of a groove.
The rooms are equipped with a bathtub from the company WetStyle, executed with an ecological thermal insulation material composed of soybeans and mineral stones, ideal for not going out on cold days… In addition, they match (even if it is in contrast) with the bright colors of the carpets, traditional style blankets and duvets. Of course, very well complemented by the light projectors of Arancia Lighting, who collaborated with the lighting specialists, Dark Tools, who explain to us that the materials used were sought in countries with certain labor guarantees (namely) and with the best guidelines ecological.
Jacuzzis with ocean views
But there is still more, as the classic says: the second floor of the communal “X” wing includes a cinema, with a more typical aesthetic of a theater, and two floors above, in the other wing of the “X”, the best of the best: saunas and outdoor jacuzzis with sea views. A true oasis of joy for the body. As they are not very used to this saunas, they hired the architects Sami Rintala and Dagur Eggertsson from Norway for the design, a success, especially when you contemplate the Atlantic behind a glass railing.
The local architecture studio, Sheppard Architects Inc, collaborated closely in the execution and design of the 4,000 square meters built, in which every detail and element is more than thought. Like the expansion of the suites on the fourth floor with sloping ceilings that follow the fall of the roof or the multiple pieces executed by carpenters from the island, who worked on the most international designs, creating a fusion capable of bringing the brilliance of the experience of the two souls.
Not suitable for all pockets
This Boutique Hotel, almost signature (if it weren’t for the multitude of hands that intervened in its conceptualization), has exorbitant prices, ranging from 1,360 euros for the Labrador Suite, the smallest located on the first, second and third floors, at 1,980 euros for the Fogo Island Suite, huge suites on the fourth floor, with unbeatable views of the port. But, if you really want to throw the house out the window, you will ask prices for the Flat Earth suite, the largest of all, which has two floors with views to the north, east and south, the price is so high that it is only available on request…
Nothing like starting the year exercising our right to copy, copy the good ideas that we see, even in the most remote places, such as that of the non-profit society that has promoted this hotel, a society that understood that for the people to survive from Fogo Island they had to put it in the world, and not hidden, in the foreground, well visible. To do so, they have used two tools: the local workforce, which supplies the hotel with staff, and the most international design, starting with the most contemporary architecture.