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Design and Architecture Norway

Urban development in Norway


Træna lies within touching distance of the arctic circle just off the coast of Northern Norway, a few hours away from the mainland. It is the oldest fishing community in Norway, being home to archeological findings dating back 9000 years to the stone age. It is built on natural values, history, and - innovation for future generations' needs. The island municipality has a vision to be at the at the cutting edge of creativity.

Illustrasjon: Spahotell i skjærgården på Træna med mennesker som bader i sjøen.
«Spatrium» in Træna is an ongoing project for the establishment of a museum, hotel, sauna / spa and artist-in-residence- residence in the same place.
Photo: Vardehaugen arkitekter

Træna as testbed

Træna has made itself attractive to creative entrepreneurs from a range of different fields, through its Artists & Business in residence Programmes. These programmes run between 1-3 months and are open for entrepreneurs and business operators from all over the world who are looking for a place that will inspire their creativity.

They may have an idea related to a product or service that is being developed in cooperation with existing businesses or in a new market that is not yet even established. Companies, both national and international, such as Osram and the environmental product series Klar, have used Træna as their testbed for new products and design processes.

Træna, Norway's second smallest municipality, lies on the Arctic Circle, 33 nautical miles west of the Helgeland coast.
Træna, Norway's second smallest municipality, lies on the Arctic Circle, 33 nautical miles west of the Helgeland coast.
Photo: Hans Petter Sørensen

The most exotic festival in Europe

Træna is continuing to innovate, combining local resources with skills and competencies from outside the island. There are currently plans for creating a hybrid co-working, living, visiting and recreation destination.   Other ongoing projects are within local seafood, developing products around seaweed, offering culinary experiences, and innovating with land-based fish farming.

Once every year, the Trænafestivalen pushes the island’s population up from around 500 to 5,000 people. This festival of music, art and culture is known as one of the most exotic festivals in Europe. 

Træna’s innovative approach in how it evolves as a place and community has led to the municipality being awarded the Norwegian Innovation Prize in 2018.


Stokkøya is located 120km north of Trondheim on the coast of Mid-Norway. In 2001, Roar Svenning took over his family coastal farm that is blessed with access to nature’s abundant resources on land and sea being situated on a picturesque beach. Challenged with local depopulation the vision was to create a rural community with urban qualities that would be an attractive place where one can live and prosper.

"Bygdekanten" is a housing project down at the water's edge on Stokkøya.
Photo: Pir II Aritekter

With a focus on using contemporary tools connected with architecture and design, desirable living spaces and a beach hotel were constructed. This led to the vision and concept called Bygda 2.0 (Rural Community 2.0). Bygda 2.0 is a bottom-up catalyst for change.

Through multiple full-scale experiments it is sought to demonstrate how the rural community can transform into a ‘micro-city’. By emphasising other qualities than traditional countryside communities, the focus is all about establishing a living laboratory that draws people and expertise from all over the country and internationally, to a place of tranquillity and creativity.

it is time to learn from the radical change happening beyond the world's cities.

Rem Koolhaas


Multi-use building

The buildings at Stokkøya have been designed by Norwegian architectural firm PirII and at the heart of the community is the “Bygdeboksen”. A multi-use building where you will find a co-working space, a workshop area, a bakery and a large hall for conferences, workshops, concerts, art projects, company gatherings and even activities such as badminton or yoga.

The future of rural communities

These two places in Norway illustrate several strong qualities about the people and the outstanding natural beauty of the country. First, it demonstrates the innovation and freedom local municipalities have within Norway’s quite unique national local democracy model. Furthermore, the places show the opportunity that small communities have in rethinking their purpose and offering a sustainable solution for their own prosperity and interaction with the bigger cities and municipalities.

The renowned architect Rem Koolhaas has said that “it is time to learn from the radical change happening beyond the world's cities”. Both Træna and Stokkøya are living examples of how this can be done.




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