Once a carpentry and factory – Now being transformed into a meeting place across cultural expressions. This is how it all started and how we got to where we are today. But our story isn’t over yet, so make sure to join us on this journey.
“While standing on the top of a mountain, a new local friend of ours pointed down towards Henningsvær and told us about an old factory that was for sale. A couple of days later we had collected all our savings and bought the factory.”
Established back in the 40s’, Trevarefabrikken in Lofoten used to be a carpentry and cod liver oil factory. In 2014, a group of friends on a spontanious climbing holiday stumbled across the old factory on sale. Blown away by the industrial details, the view towards the mountains of Lofoten rising straight from the sea and the inspiring history of the building, they bought the building with ambitions to create a meeting place across cultural expressions in a small local community.
Since then the building has slowly been transformed into a place with a vibrant cultural scene, local food and drinks, ocean sauna and rooms for a good night’s sleep. Today the factory is a natural meeting place for the entire region – with a restaurant, café, accommodation, yoga and a wide range of cultural offerings.
The Trevarefabrikken family forms a large network with people from different places in the world with different backgrounds and experiences – with a common desire to explore an alternative lifestyle. Come take part in the never-ending and ever-evolving story of Trevarefabrikken.
And please excuse the mess. We’re working on it!
The brothers collected their friends and started cleaning out the old factory that had been closed for a decade. All work was done in volunteer spirit (in Norwegian: dugnad) which is a very generous collective mindset that is still very present in the local community of Henningsvær up until this day. In addition to all the heavy work the days were filled up with good times between friends, parties and dinners together around a long table.
Because the factory was showing serious signs of aging and erosion, they applied and received funding for fixing the roof and the facade from both the county of Nordland and Kulturminnefondet. The reason for some of the funding lies in the uniqueness of the foundation of the building, because it was built using a special technique of filling up wooden casts with concrete, which back in 1948 was not so common in a small fishing town like Henningsvær.
In the summer of 2016 the roof was restored with the help of supportive friends and people who wanted to contribute to the project. In the beginning of that same summer they also received permission to serve alcohol by the seaside viewpoint, now known as Steinbruddet, so they picked up a toilet container and built a small outside bar from wooden pallets and a piece of the original roof of the factory. The outcome delivered a very special experience since people didn’t believe it to be a legal bar due to it’s appearance.
They used the local brewery Lofotpils as their supplier. Some of the beer bottles that were sold that summer have found a new purpose and are now hanging as a part of a light installation in the hotel staircase as a reminder of that special summer.
Beginning of 2017
Thanks to the money made from the outside bar during the summer of 2016, the local bank saw potential in the project and accepted their loan application. The renovation of the first floor began. The name of the bar and restaurant, Hermetikken, originates from the history of the room as a shrimp peelery (the Norwegian word Hermetikken means cannery). Soon after starting the renovation of the first floor infrastructure, the brothers realized they were lacking skills to convert this 500m2 factory and storage facilities into a bar and restaurant area by themselves.
Luckily they got a carpenter friend up north to help them, who soon after summoned another friend of his up to to help with the project as well. With the help of these two the bar area (including toilets) was ready just in time for the summer season of 2017. The carpenters were supposed to stay and work at the factory only for a couple of months, but ended up renovating most of the building over the years, and are still living in the town and are big part of the community.
The summer of 2017 was full of changes and new openings. The café, which previously during the factory years served as a furniture shop, was born and at the same time the old wood drying storage inside Hermetikken was converted into a kitchen. The summer of 2017 therefore marked the official opening of Trevarefabrikken, with a bar, a café and a restaurant. This summer the factory also hosted the first Trevarefest, which sold out all the tickets in less than 15 minutes.
2018: A hotel is born
After the summer of 2017 the building of the hotel apartments began, which meant a big renovation on the east side of the factory (the two floors above the café). After tearing down old walls, changing rotten windows into new ones, putting up new walls and building bathrooms, four new hotel apartments were born from the old factory facilities.
What now goes with the name Paintroom used to be the office of the carpentry manager, Alf Martinsen. The Dorm used to be the break room where the factory workers enjoyed their meals and breaks. The Big Loft used to function as an upholstery workshop and The Loft was where all the furniture created at Trevarefabrikken was painted and oiled.
After a hard winter of working constantly to get everything ready for the upcoming season and the first hotel guests, the new four rooms where finally finished right when the summer season of 2018 started – so last minute that the first guests were almost waiting outside of the rooms with their luggage while the last furniture was being carried in. That same summer the beautiful seaside sauna of Trevarefabrikken was built and opened to the public. Trevarefest was hosted for the second time and continued being a success.
After the summer of 2018 Trevarefabrikken received more support in form of funding from Kulturminnefondet to renew the old and worn down facade of the building, which had started to fall apart very drastically.
First half of 2019
The Trandamperiet rooms, which once were used for a massive production of cod liver oil, got a facelift during the winter between 2018 and 2019: electricity, isolation and fireproof roof were put into place. Back in the days, 700 thousand liters of cod liver oil was produced in these rooms day and night during the winter fishing season. The production of the cod liver oil was run by former steam ship workers who worked 12 hour shifts, and during the production the factory produced so much power that they used to sell electricity to the local power supplier as well.
In the summer of 2019 the first pizza oven was built and used for serving wood fired pizza on a daily basis throughout the summer season.
2019: After the summer
After the summer it was time to start the biggest of all the renovation projects: renewing the facade. The bad layers of old facade were torn down, the old paint was taken off and all the old windows were removed.
At the same time the second floor, which once hosted the main carpentry workshop of Trevarefabrikken, was emptied and the construction of 8 new hotel rooms began. These new hotel rooms were designed by Jonathan Tuckey Design. The old machines from the carpentry still remain and are now on display in the second floor hotel room corridor.
The new hotel rooms were finished right in time for the summer season the and the fascade of the building had been fixed until the point that only the final layers of paint were missing. A new, improved handmade pizza oven was also built. The new pizza oven got its walls and form from old bricks that belonged the original oven of the factory which used to heat up the whole factory back in the days. The pizza house around the oven was built by OsloTre out of recycled massive wood.
The global pandemic had shaken the world a lot that year, and Trevare was of course also affected by it. Due to the pandemic the annual festival was cancelled and the usual ways of running a bar and a tourist destination had to find alternative solutions.
After the summer, the factory closed its doors again for the public and the end phase of the facade work started. The final layers were added, and last but not least the factory was restored to its original color.
This autumn was a great turning point in the history of Trevarefabrikken in more than one way: in addition to the newly renovated facade, four 330 meter deep wells were drilled around the factory facilities in order to receive geothermal energy for a new heating pump system that was installed into the factory at the same time. Also the Trandamperiet in the second floor received a wooden floor and new long handcrafted tables.
A peak back in time, before we bought the factory.