The Longhouse at Lista

Entrepreneurial development on Norway’s southwest coast

Longhouse at Lista

Photo: Mona Anita K. Olsen
View from a room at The Longhouse at Lista. The architectural design of the space is inspired by historical houses in the Jaeren and Lista areas of Norway, but with a modernized approach.

Mona Anita K. Olsen, PhD & Karen Lovise E. Linge Engen
Cornell University

With its scenic view toward the North Sea, close proximity to both the Østhassel Rescue Station—the only completed preserved rescue station in Norway—and impressive hiking trails that allow an intimate exposure to farm animals and the biggest concentration of bird species in Norway, The Longhouse at Lista is located in a beautiful southwestern part of Norway. The Longhouse at Lista was built to generate an interest in nature while living in it. The immersive exposure is aimed to provide a unique coastal experience.

The Longhouse at Lista is a result of the vision of entrepreneur and sole proprietor Knut Olaf Reiersen, who funded the development of the project with his own savings and help from Innovation Norge, the Norwegian government’s vehicle for entrepreneurial development, and the municipality. Starting the development in 2013, the project took almost four years to complete. With determination and passion, Reiersen managed not only regulatory considerations (building very close to the ocean and near to other neighboring structures), but also the redevelopment process with the architects. The project has a number of unique challenges, like including a living space for cows. Reiersen’s determination to create value in an experience and subsequently engage international travelers from around the world has become a model in the area for business redevelopment and sparked conversation with global visitors.

The architectural design of the space is inspired by historical houses in the Jaeren and Lista areas of Norway, but with a modernized approach. The Longhouse at Lista is built for the Nordic climate, where temperatures vary greatly and is mainly a wooden construction. The building is open by diffusion, which means that it breathes and has a healthy indoor climate. It consists of one meeting room and two big rental apartments. The meeting room can hold up to 24 people and is open to the public from sunrise to sunset on Saturdays, Sundays, and school holidays. Visitors can leverage the space to write, read, birdwatch, appreciate the ocean, and connect between hikes on the coast. Simple beverages and soup are available for sale. Parking is free, and bicycles are encouraged. For those who are arriving by sea, there is space to come in via boat.

For times outside the public hours, the meeting room and/or the apartments can be rented by individuals or companies. Reservations for the apartments, which can hold up to 18 people, are taken online and via phone. Leveraging the network through AirBnB at www.airbnb.com/rooms/18887463, where he is considered a Super Host, Reiersen has been able to market the apartments to a more international audience, hosting people from the Netherlands and Germany. Reiersen enjoys the opportunity to meet friendly travelers, learning more about their lives and culture, and exposing them to the scenic area of Lista. This also brings attention to Lista as a place for tourists and travelers from Norway and abroad to visit and spreads the word about this small and idyllic area in Norway. In time, Reiersen hopes to see American visitors to The Longhouse at Lista.

For now, Reiersen maintains the building and runs the business solo. But in time, he hopes to be able to hire others as the business evolves. He sees opportunities to grow the accommodation portion of the business more on shoulder seasons, but also aims to tap into the biking community in the area. The region is known for beautiful cycling tours, and bike rentals are something he is also considering. Further, with other complementary service experiences growing in the area, such as Farsund Badehus (Farsund Bath House/Sauna), and the growing popularity of Lista Fuglestasjon (Lista Bird Station), there is potential to provide fully immersive hospitality experiences in the area.

With the vision of entrepreneur Reiersen, coupled with its location, The Longhouse at Lista reflects Norwegian nature and culture at its best and provides historical elements for its visitors. The Longhouse at Lista creates an opportunity for encouraging international tourism to appreciate the small but charming town of Lista.

You can learn more about the Longhouse at Lista at www.thelonghouseatlista.com.

Mona Anita K. Olsen is an assistant professor at the School of Hotel Administration in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business​ in Ithaca, N.Y. ​She is also the founder of Innovation Barn 58N6E and the 501c3 iMADdu (I make a difference, do you?) Inc.

This article originally appeared in the November 30, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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