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Tilting

review

By Robert Mellin. Princeton Architectural Press, 2003. 208pp. £16.95

Robert Mellin's drawing above shows a traditional Newfoundland approach to 'light'architecture: a two-storey timber-framed house, prised off its diagonal props (top right), being towed across the ice by sledge to its new location, writes Andrew Mead. Such scenes are not that unusual, Mellin has discovered, at Tilting - a fishing village on Fogo Island off the north-east coast of Newfoundland, which he has been visiting and documenting since 1987.

His book is a true labour of love, combining photographs, sketches, and recollections of the village's inhabitants to convey the seasonal rhythms of life at Tilting, with its architecture always the main focus - the white or red ochre woodwork of the houses and outbuildings, the rocky outcrops they perch on, the sea beside them sparkling in the sun. The care that Mellin has taken in his research is reflected also in the book's design, with its occasional coloured backgrounds and creative use of type; and there is an excellent index as well.

The closest most of us will come to Tilting and Fogo Island is the 11,000m-high view from a transatlantic aeroplane window, but Mellin brings this remote place and its local vernacular precisely and vividly to life.

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