He has won some of the most prestigious awards with his design creations. He still believes in designing structures simple, elegant to look at and functional while adding beauty to the surroundings. Canadian architect – designer Todd Saunders has left an indelible signature of his designs in countries like Norway, England, Denmark, Italy, Sweden and Canada.
Blending dynamic building and modern material experimentation with traditional methods of craftsmanship, Todd strongly believes architecture must play an important role in creating space using form, materials and texture to help evoke and shape memory through human interactions. Todd established Saunders Architecture way back in 1998 and is currently based in Bergen, Norway since 1996.
Renowned for designing the magnificent Fogo Island Inn and Artists’ Studios in Newfoundland, Todd’s studio is working on multiple projects simultaneously in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the USA and Canada. He also imparts knowledge to the younger generation as a lecturer and visiting professor at various prestigious educational institutions in Norway, Scandinavia, UK, Canada and the USA.
Johnny D interviews the architect – designer to know more about Carraig Ridge Project spread across 650 acres of secluded pristine Canadian landscape.
Johnny D: What was the client’s brief?
Todd Saunders: The brief was to design 5 contemporary houses with all the same room program and area. It should have completely different forms and personality that relates to the specific sites. It should be low maintenance, be fireproof buildings with steel cladding and a careful approach for ecological aspects.
JD: How many brainstorming sessions it took for the ‘Team’ to design the master-plan?
TS: The way we work is almost like a continuous brainstorming. It is hard to divide it into sessions. We designed about 10 to 15 different concepts and select the 5 best ones in the last session. Then the detailing process takes shape and form.
JD: Please specify Todd Saunders’ Systematic Approach and Process of Designing Priorities.
TS: We call it design Darwinism. We start off with lot of ideas, but slowly weed out the weakest ones, thus only the strongest ideas survive just like the Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
JD: How many design staff work(s) on the project? What was the time-period taken by the ‘Team’ to come up with the final master-plan?
TS: Two Senior Architects and two younger members of our team took part in the design of the houses. We spent about 15 weeks to emerge with a suggestion for the master-plan and the sketch designs of the 5 units.
JD: Please mention the ‘Time-period’ for executing the project.
TS: Carraig Ridge Project is a long-term project. The client wants to take his time so that we don´t make mistakes and destroy the beautiful landscape. The emphasis is to have time to make high-quality architecture. We will be making one to three houses each year for perhaps the next 10 years’ period.
JD: Construction Engineers are breaking frontiers to give shape to Architects’ Designs’ Vision. How much credit is attributed to their conscientious efforts? Please name the Engineering Firm your firm always relies on to execute projects to the perfect T.
TS: We work with a few local engineers in Bergen, Norway. I must confess that we are not that experimental when it comes to structures. We like to keep our buildings simple and straight forward. Elegance lies in simplicity, so I believe.
JD: ‘Sustainability’ has become mandatory in project designing worldwide. Architects are going beyond to incorporate and achieve the unexpected. Please specify ‘Sustainability’ Characteristics in this project.
TS: We respect the site and the surroundings help us to stay sustainable. We are very careful while doing our land survey locating all the trees, stones, and measured up 10 cm contours.
Minimal impact on the site / terrain and the existing trees are conserved to maintain the sustainability factors to the project. Buildings are design orientated so that they get the best solar heat gain. We make use of long lasting materials, which has low maintenance benefitting the residents for a long term period.
JD: Your reputation surpasses prestigious awards the firm has won over the years on the global scenario! How would you define the intricacies of winning award one after another?
TS: Receiving awards is a great feeling, knowing our peer group has recognized the value of our hard work. It helps an individual and a firm to excel further in life.
JD: Please mention 5 Major Awards won recently by Todd Saunders.
TS: The following awards were bestowed to us in recent times:
— 2015 Winner of Hotel Design Awards 2015, EnRoute Magazine: Best Overall Architecture
— 2015 Social Good Award, the AZ Awards
— 2015 Commercial Institution Architecture Award, the AZ Awards
— 2014 Architectural Digest, Fogo Island Inn: One of the ten most daring buildings in the world
— 2011 “5 Greatest Architects under 50” by Huffington Post
JD: Last but not the least, how challenging and satisfying is your role as the Head of the firm on a day-to-day life?
TS: (Smiles) It´s satisfying in many ways, but by no means is it an easy job!
Image courtesy: The Architect