Online archive - find the most current content at

Fish Factory Creative Centre

Stöðvarfjörður (Fjarðabyggð), East Iceland

In Stöðvarfjörður, a remote village in the East fjords of Iceland, a passionate group of individuals have turned an abandoned fish factory into a creative centre. The centre is run by a non-profit cooperation founded by the community in 2011. It runs workshops, holds concerts and cultural events, provides art residencies and even hosts a small fish processing company and fish market. The main aim of the project is to regenerate the small village and make it a desirable place to live now and into the future.    

Artists, designers and craftsmen working together to turn creative thinking into meaningful practice.

Abandoned fish factory converted to a creative centre

The fish factory in Stöðvarfjörður, once the heart of a thriving industry, was closed down in 2005, hitting the village economy and population hard. Thirty two employees lost their jobs, a large loss for a community of only about 200 inhabitants. The bank and post office closed and the nursery and elementary school are under increasing threat of shutdown due to a significant decrease in the population. Further shutdowns of the social services could wipe Stöðvarfjörður off the map. A group of creative people within the community saw this as an opportunity to take the village in different direction by transforming the old fish factory into an engine room for creativity to regenerate and sustain the community.   

Attracting creative people in the long and short term

The idea behind the factory is to bring jobs and life to the village by providing workshops and facilities where small initiatives can thrive. There are also studio spaces, a cultural venue, a banquet hall, school camps and a local products market. Some parts of the factory will even retain their original purpose by providing housing for local fish industry activities. The spaces will provide a broad spectrum of creative options, from food and music to arts and crafts. The factory will also offer art residencies and aims to encourage an influx of new people and ideas the village. It is expected to be fully operational by 2017.

Public and private support in form of funds and goodwill

Financial support for the project includes exemption from property taxes as well as direct grants from the municipality and the infrastructure fund Austurbrú. The project has also been supported by countless volunteer hours. The residents, who were sceptical in the beginning, are now very positive, providing help and support along with local businesses. Everyone is working towards the same goal – attracting people to the village by providing interesting jobs and opportunities to express creativity. The dream of the project pioneers is to fill all the empty houses in the village with young families.

Key learnings for municipalities

Rósa Valtingojer, one of the pioneers of the project said if she were to start over again, she would handle the communications differently. She emphasised the importance of clear communication in avoiding misunderstanding and increasing efficiency.

Find out more


Download the full case study

Page last updated September 2016.