In an abandoned fishing village in the far north of Vestvågøy in Norway, a new building emerges from the shore. Freshly sawed wood shines in the sun in contrast to the old, weather-beaten houses around. The project is called the Bands, and is part of an art and culture center connected to Villa Lofoten. Read more about how 24 architecture students created new life at historical farm in Northern Norway.
At Villa Lofoten you can live in a historical farm and in listed harbor buildings. In earlier times these buildings were vital in allowing those who lived here to use local resources in a sustainable way. Since time immemorial people in Lofoten have survived through a combination of fishing and farming.
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Located north of the Polar circle
Kleivan is a small town on Norway’s Lofoten islands. Located north of the polar circle, even in its prime the place was little more than a fishing village. Representing a bi-gone era, three buildings still exist on the village’s quay: a fisherman’s cottage, a cod liver oil production plant and a cod salting building. Dating back to the early 1800s, the structures showcase a lifestyle that is likely never to exist in the same way again. Due to their historical significance, all three were listed in the cultural heritage plan for Lofoten by Nordland county in 2007.
“The assignment was to create a meeting place for people in the area,” says Solveig Sandness, lecturer and civil engineer at the School of Architecture and Design in Oslo (AHO). “Villa Lofoten is founded on culture and nature. Through restoring old buildings and putting them to new use we have conserved and communicated Lofoten’s unique history. New life in old buildings is better than depopulation and decay. Values created by previous generations are given meaning in new contexts,” she adds.
Students were asked to improve the use of protected buildings
Students of the scarcity and creativity studio from the AHO were asked, ‘to improve the use of these protected buildings by creating a melting point which would provide activity and social life to increase the use of the quay, and make it more pleasant for visitors, artist groups, locals and summer tourists.’ Their answer came in the form of The ‘bands’, a multi-purpose facility that forms a sensitive relationship with the landscape and water.
the name comes from the basic organization of the project, which can be described as three independent ‘bands’, or strips, that run parallel to the waterfront. All functions are built into folds and directional changes of the lines, separating the whole into four sections. In the north, the deck emerges directly from the water. From there, they move jaggedly up to the main level; home to a sauna, a changing room and a patio with hot tub, table, benches, barbecue and a gutting bench.
The roofs mirror the mountains
The idea was that the roofs of the Bands should mirror the mountain peaks around, the displacements in the roof surface also ensure that the area is broken up and that daylight enters the building from several directions.
Together with architect Christian Hermansen and doctoral fellow Marcin Wojcik, Solveig Sandness led 24 architecture students in the work with the Bands. The project at Kleivan was part of the teaching offer at AHO, a course for fourth- and fifth-year students at the school.
Residency program for artists from around the world
Towards the turn of the century, Kvalnes was affected by a decline in population. Houses were sold and new people moved in. Kvalnes is one of the six inhabited places in Vestvågøy with midnight sun. People who like Kvalnes are often people looking for presence, closeness to nature, and self-expression.
Villa Lofoten is also run as a residency program for artists from around the world.
24 Architecture Students Created New Life at Historical Farm in Northern Norway, edited by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): A taller section (furthest right) functions as a fish cleaning table
© Jonas Aarre Sommarset