What identifies place? And, how does our built form meet with the local DNA? We begin the show with an interview with Zita Cobb, President and Founder of the Shorefast Foundtaion. A social entrepreneurial charity, the foundation is revitalizing the culture of an island north of Newfoundland called Fogo Island. Rather than attracting jobs from an outside business, the foundation took an inventory of what Cobb refers to as “sacred capital”. And instead of a global business coming to the island, new jobs were created by developing artist residencies, a world-class Inn, and a micro-lending arm. The culture of the place, it turns out, was destined for hospitality. One of the happy benefits of the island’s reviatlization is furniture made on the island and sold across the nation and beyond…see Fogo Island Shop.
In the interview, Zita Cobb spoke about reductionism. Financial capital might be more more measurable but communities must seek out what they love. The cultural and artisitc fibre of a place, this is what to invest in. The money will follow.
One of Cobb’s early moves was to hire Norway-based architect Todd Saunders to design the artist residencies and the Fogo Island Inn. Born and raised near Fogo Island himself, Saunders welcomed the homecoming opportunity and took great care to touch gently the land that he knew so well. The process of working with the community armed former boat builders with new trades, helping to build the residencies and Inn while identifying with the local. Todd speaks about the outports, or the vernacular architecture balanced above the water on piers or “stages”. Sustainability, or designing with a light footprint, was integrated in the front end of the design so that a mechanical building was sized from the optimum roof siting necessary to rely on solar power.
And finally, we speak with Sam Oboh, the President of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. Siting John Ruskin’s “The Seven Lamps of Architecture,” our conversation considers not only fairness and inclusivity as important, but also reveals how beauty is inherently connected to the civic significance of place.
The RAIC is hosting their annual Festival of Architecture in Calgary next month. To learn more about the advocacy for excellency in the built environment that this organization undertakes, visit: raic.org. This year’s theme is (RE)Generation + Integration. A few events open to the public will also take place during the festival. For more information visit the RAIC Design Hub June 3-6th.