It started as a small campsite on a windswept part of the Trøndelag coast outside Trondheim. Today Stokkøya Sjøsenter has become a famous architectural landmark and a highly attractive tourist destination.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Erik Vegård
Today Stokkøya Sjøsenter is owned by Torild Langklopp and Roar Svenning, Torild’s sister Ingrid, and her husband Niels Stagegaard. They took over the small campsite which Roar’s parents used to run and which over time had developed into a good base for visiting divers. Torild and Roar met at a diver’s event and decided to turn the place into an attractive destination with added accommodation. Early in the process they brought in Ingrid, who is chair of the board and also takes active part in running the site.
The interaction between innovative architecture and the beautiful and untouched landscape was one of the important elements in the development of Stokkøya Sjøsenter. Combined with culinary delights and impressive outdoor areas, the centre by Hosnasand beach in Trøndelag county is now the object of great international interest. The owners’ philosophy has been clear from the beginning: Nature is the basis for all the that goes on here, no matter what you choose to do. Enjoy a good meal and magnificent views, go for a walk in the cultural landscape, take a bath in the outdoor tub, go for a dip in the sea or take a dinghy, kayak or fishing boat out on the water. They want their guests to enjoy themselves and take time to really soak up the experience. And maybe the best activity is doing nothing at all?
Kysthusene – the coastal houses – were built in 2003. Some might compare them to boxy building site cabins, but in the Italian architectural exhibition “Archtitettura e memoria” in Genova the project was presented as a successful example of a new European architecture. All the coastal houses are privately owned, but Stokkøya Sjøsenter has an agreement with several of the owners and can rent them out for courses, conferences, festive occasions or holidays.
In 2005 they started building the restaurant Strandbaren, or Beach bar, right on one of the finest sandy beaches in central Norway. In the beginning it was just meant to be a simple meeting place for people staying in cabins in the area, but the restaurant with its huge glass front and sea views now attracts food loving visitors from all over the county.
The SUB-house with the SUB-cabins – SUB stands for Sov Under Bakken; sleeping below ground – were built a few years later and opened to guests in the spring of 2009. The hosts wanted to soften the impact of the construction on the natural landscape and chose to dig the cabins into the sand. Inspired by the old earth cellars, the cabins have a much more exclusive look with glass doors that open towards the sea.
There is also the Sjøsenteret or sea centre building with four bright and spacious rooms, and the latest addition is the Bygdeboksen, the village box, an apartment and office building with meeting rooms, a bakery with a stone oven, a brewery, carpenter’s workshop and offices to rent. There is a concert and function venue, and Sjøsenteret has already signed a five year agreement with Trondheim Symphony orchestra for an annual event.
Roar used to be an experienced scallop and sea urchin diver and gradually learnt a lot about local produce from the sea. He started supplying seafood to good restaurants in Norway and later also exported to France and Japan. This experience, combined with a keen interest in food and a great network of brilliant chefs, meant that food was given a lot of attention in the development of Strandbaren restaurant. The menu of the day is based on fresh ingredients from the sea, meat from their own farm and whatever delicacies the season has to offer. Expert chefs compose a new menu every day, and all of the dishes are cooked from scratch – served of course with a good drink.
According to Travel+Leisure and CNN in 2012, Stokkøya Sjøsenter is one of the world’s best places to go for a beach holiday – and they are in good company; Fort Lauderdale in Florida and Koh Samui in Thailand were on the same list. A wonderful accolade for the hosts, who have no intention of resting on their laurels, but continue to concentrate on what they can do better. This bodes well for the future.