Villa Lofoten grew out of an idea of merging raw, untamed nature with deep-rooted culture.
We renovated old, historical buildings that were once vital to local fishermen. We now invite guests from home and abroad to live, explore and create their own stories in these unique surroundings.
Here you get an understanding of the history of Kvalnes and the work of restoring our houses.
Settlements at Kvalnes
When you're staying in Kvalnes, you're living in history. Prehistoric artefacts have been found at Kvalnes that date all the way back to the 7th century BC.
In a census from 1567 the names of the first inhabitants, farmers, were registered The land register from 1626 refers to the place as "Church property, vicarage and privately inherited estate". In 1723 it was written that the farm Kvalnes had little birch forest, no pasture, no mills, but was conveniently located for fishing. At that time the farm owned two horses, 15 cows, six young cattle, 24 sheep, and 15 goats.
The society at Kvalnes
According to the census of 1801, 27 people in four families lived at Kvalnes. The pay-off of the silver tax, a mandatory tax that was enforced in 1816 to form a foundation fund for the newly created Norges Bank, shows that the settlers at Kvalnes were reasonably wealthy.
In the period 1832 to 1885, five tenant farmers (i.e., people who did not own the farm themselves) became owners of their own farms. At the census of 1865, 61 people lived in 10 households at Kvalnes. The first tradesman arrived in 1887. At the census in 1900, there was 100 people in 13 families, and the land was divided into 12 farms. In the 1920s the village got their own school. From the beginning of 1970s the children went to school at Vestresand, today they attend school at Bøstad. In 1932 a youth house was established, but that building is now gone.
Anton Kristoffersen (1857-1929) was a farmer as well as a carpenter and fisherman at Kvalnes. He had six children with his wife, Kaia Magdalene Leohnardsdatter (1861-1930). Anton founded a fish processing plant in the new harbour, subsequently passed on to his sons Edvard and Sigurd. The company produced salted fish and roe, stockfish, and cod-liver oil. These activities took place in three different buildings on their quay: A fish saltery, a cod-liver oil steamery and a fisherman’s cabin. Villa Lofoten bought these three buildings from the children of Edvard and Sigurd.
Cultural heritage management at Kvalnes
In 2007, a "Cultural Heritage Plan for Lofoten" was adopted by Nordland County Council. It states that the harbor at Kvalnes is worthy of preservation as a recent cultural monument:
“The fishing village environment includes a jetty, quay, fishing industry, foundations for fish drying racks, warehouse, office, facilities for salting fish and cod-liver oil steaming, fisherman's cabins, brewery and shop. The fishing village environment consists of buildings from the early 20th century until the 1970s, and has great interpretive value in relation to recent fishing history.”
We have taken this decision seriously. Therefore we can today invite our guests to participate in our project: Protection through new use!
We have preserved the environment and the sizes and exteriors of the buildings in their entirety. The exterior cladding is identical to what it was originally – spruce logged from the forest in the immediate area and sawed on a farm saw. The fisherman's cabin and the cod liver oil facility were originally painted with red cod liver oil paint, but these have been gray for the last fifty years. We therefore chose to leave the spruce cladding untreated on all the buildings. The cladding grays naturally and gets its patina from wind and weather. Prior to 1980 there was a turf roof on the fisherman's cabin. Like the other two buildings, these have had corrugated iron roofs since then. The choice has therefore been to keep zinc plates as roofing on all the roofs. The original windows were not usable in any of the buildings and were replaced with copies. All windows are made of pine heartwood. On the outside, they are coated with linseed oil, and will eventually turn gray like the cladding. Simple paneled doors are used on new doors and windows to maintain the exterior facades and protect against weather and wind.
We have preserved as much as possible. At the same time, we have created modern, unique and comfortable houses. The buildings are furnished and equipped with objects collected over decades. Re-use and circular economy are the foundation of our concept.
The Fish Saltery
On the ground floor they salted fish. On the second floor there was previously a room paneled with plywood. People lived here while they fished.
The walls inside are repaired as carefully as possible. Traces of fish oil are therefore still visible.
The Fisherman's Cabin
The timber frame in the fisherman's cabin is from the middle of the 19th century. A fishing boat team lived in each of the rooms during the Lofoten fishing season. A boat team could be up to 8 men.
The people who lived at Kvalnes were fisher-farmers. The fisherman had a farm with a couple of cows, some sheep and a pig, some chickens and maybe a horse. In addition, he fished and processed fish. He either had his own boat or participated in a boat team on another man's boat. They fished mainly for cod, saithe, salmon and herring in the surrounding areas and north to the coast of Finnmark. During Lofoten fishing - from mid-January to mid-April - they hung cod to dry on racks and wires. This way of life was largely characterized by natural, self-sufficient households. Life was hard and required the participation of everyone in the family.
Boatmotors come to Kvalnes
For generations the harbour was located on the west side of Kvalnes, facing the open sea and the fishing grounds. Taking boats in and out to sea was timed with the tides. After fishermen started using motorboats, the harbour was no longer fit for use suitable. A new port harbour was built at the other end of the village in the 1920s. Many moved their fishermen cabins from the old to the new harbour. In 1917 the population at Kvalnes wanted to make changes to the harbour. They wanted the State to build a 100-meter-long pier, as well as two harbour walls of 30 meters each. The requirement was repeated in 1918. The Port Authority examined the conditions and concluded that a pier of 300 meters was needed. It had to have room for 20 motorboats in the harbour due to the growing population in the fishing village.
The new Harbour
The work on the pier continued for many years. From 1933 the work was increasingly financed by so-called "emergency grants" – government grants given to abate unemployment. In 1938 the water supply plant for the new harbour was completed. In 1939 the modern harbour facility was completed, and in the course of the 1940s the old harbour was discontinued.
Restoring the Quay
Architect: Uffe Black Nielsen
Project owner and leader: Aaslaug Vaa
Craftsmen: Daniel Mabin, Leszek Sredzinski, Torgeir Thorsen, Brent Gooding, Vegard Johannesen, Ruben Sandberg, Jann Waade, Dillan Bcockie, Geir Losnegaard, Jochen Fechner, Eystein Greibrokk og Anders Lyche Oppegaard.
The restoration of the facility is financed by Villa Lofoten with support from Kulturminnefondet and Innovation Norway, and contributions from Stiftelsen UNI, the County Governor of Nordland, the National Trust of Norway, Nordland County Council and Vestvågøy municipality.
The Directorate of cultural heritage writes the following about the site:
The buildings are an important part of our cultural heritage. Old houses are a witness of past social conditions, life and routines, but also of good craftsmanship and empirical material knowledge. They are among the most valuable cultural monuments we have, since most of them have been used continuously and will continue to be used in the future. They represent a living and unbroken tradition.