Lyngør Island is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty and is steeped in history. The jagged, rocky islands sits by the open sea on the southernmost tip of Norway. The village is only accessible by boat. Lyngør is spread across four main islands, the largest of which is 600 metres wide. It is almost exclusively made up of well-preserved historic architecture, some of it dating back to the 17th century.
The boat ride from the mainland to the site on the island takes around 15 minutes. Around 80 inhabitants make up the island community during the majority of the year the year, though the population swells to around 2000 in the peak season in July.
Prior to the 17th century, the island was mainly used as grazing land for local farmers. As the population increased, people began to sustain themselves by seafaring. As the islands were well situated towards the European mainland, they became home to many ship owners, skippers, mates, pilots, and carpenters. In 1900, 600 people lived on Lyngør. There were shops, a post office, a telegraph service, a shipping office, a doctor, a variety of craftsmen, and both English and German were taught at the local primary school. In the 20th century, however, the population gradually dwindled as industrial shipping and commerce moved elsewhere.
An ongoing challenge for the local economy is to create sustainable income beyond a short peak tourist season. This is a common situation for many communities on the fringes of Europe, where traditional income generation through agriculture, fishing, and trade is under threat from the globalised markets and a high cost of living. At present on the island there is little commercial activity, with the exception of a small shop and restaurant holding an occasional market and cultural events, as well as a sail-making workshop and a small gallery open in the tourist season.
The AA Visiting School Lyngør is a collaboration between The Architectural Association School of Architecture in London UK and Oslo School of Architecture and Design in Oslo, Norway