Just before Saunders Architecture‘s 4 week summer break, we asked founder Todd Saunders about his firm’s ability to seemingly design on any topography, his monograph and why he chose to move from Canada to Norway.
1. What made you move from Canada to Norway?
My original intention was to come to Norway for six months and then keep traveling. I had previously worked in Vienna for 4 months and Berlin for 6 months and really enjoyed working/traveling. When I came to Norway I started work on Monday, found a place to live on Wednesday, and then met my wife on Friday night. Now, I have two kids and nice practice and 17 years have passed, so this is my adopted country now.
2.What was it like putting together your own monograph?
I put the monograph together to help me look back and analyze the past tens years of practice. I also wanted to have something for my children to see when they got older. The monograph was a great process with the writers Ellie Stathaki and Jonathan Bell from Wallpaper magazine. I worked together on the photographs with Bent Rene´Synnevåg. The both of us spent lots of time visiting and re-visiting projects to get the best shots. Joseph Grima wrote an interesting forward challenging me to explore in the next coming ten years. The book has been selling very well all around the world and has led to a few good commissions.
3.How did you get one of your projects featured in the iPhone5 video?
Apple had contacted Dezeen who had just published the project. It was amazing seeing it on the video. A proud moment as I have been using a mac for 18 years since art school.
4. All of your projects seem to be on topographically challenging sites. Was there ever a site where you had a lot of trouble designing a project?
That´s correct. Most of our sites are quite pristine. We haven´t had trouble as we are always well prepared before we start the designs. We always get a surveyor to make 10 contour maps for us, then we build a large physical model to design with, and we then make a digital 3d model of the terrain. We know the site inside and out before we even make a first idea.
5. In 3 sentences or less, describe the social impact (or positive feedback from clients for private residences) the following project have or will have:
This projects is an experimental urban campus in Istanbul. It is car-free and has all the technologies developed with GE who are also building a medical research centre within the same project.
Fogo Island Inn
This project is a philanthropic project where all the profits go back to the community. The Inn and all of its furniture were build by local craftspeople. It is a successful experiment with geotourism.
All the studios are 100% off the grid with compost toilets, rainwater collection, solar panels, and heated by local firewood.
This is the largest studio and has been used as a space for 1-5 artist at a time. It´s more of a gallery space in some senses and is a space for making large scale art works.
The squish studio sits on the edge of the North Atlantic and is an exclamation mark on the rough Northern Landscape.
The tower studio sits on the point of a peninsula and as you move around it the form changes from each angle.