From Activism to Million-Dollar Cabins

The story of summer cabins at Lindøya begins with economical differences in Oslo around 1920. It all started when workers from Oslo rowed out to the islands and set up tents and cabins, to the great indignation of the bourgeoise.


In 1919, the 8-hour workday was introduced and, with weekends and additional spare time, the interest in entertainment and non-commercial forms of leisure increased. An emphasis on sports, swimming, hiking, and cabin life, laid the foundation for a comprehensive construction of premises for recreational and leisure activities. The building of allotment gardens and cottage settlements increased on the islands in the Oslofjord.


Image by Author. Lindøya 11.11.20

From 1905, workers in Oslo began to row out to Lindøya from Akerselva and Pipervika. Residents in Oslo could rent boats at Akerselva and many people had fishing boats. Many of the workers lived in dark and narrow tenements in the city and enjoyed the open space that the islands provided. The first structures at Lindøya were put up in 1905—originally tents and tarpaulins and then plank huts. Some used piano and car boxes. There were 50 tents in 1914 and over one hundred the following year.

1905 Oslo Museum. Unknown Photographer, 1905. 

Summer settlements at Lindøya, Nakholmen, and Bleikøya were met with protests from conservatives. The temporary residents at Lindøya—with their parties featuring alcohol, accordions, song, and dance—were the first impression for tourist ships entering Oslo. Newspapers wrote about the island settlers bringing shame to Oslo and the Oslofjord.

1905 Oslo Museum. Unknown Photographer, 1925-1930.

Because of the clutter, Lindøya, Nakholmen, and Bleikøya were referred to as a communist society. More recently, it has been established that the government did not want to remove the settlements because of the fear of social revolt. In order to avoid unrest, the government allowed the tents to stay.

Oslo Museum. St Hans at Nakholmen. Unknown Photographer, 1910. 

Cottage settlements were established on the islands after the, so-called, “rural people” had created a bad reputation with excessive alcohol on Lindøya. After a St. Hans night, the military authorities who managed the island, determined that it had gone too far and banned all disembarkation. To make up for the damage Akerselva’s boat association, to which the party participants belonged, sent a recommendation to keep the cabins and tents, in exchange for ensuring peace and order. The result was three hundred cabins on Lindøya, two hundred on Nakholmen, and one hundred on Bleikøya.

In 1923, the government saw the need to regulate. There was discussion as to whether they should demolish and sell to private individuals, but the authorities wanted the working class to have it. The government in power, Arbeiderpartiet, recognized that a failure to grant certain privileges to the unprivileged could mean social rebellion, and they would not risk revolution.

Illustration by Author. Site Plan of Lindøya.

Illustration by Author. Section of Lindøya Facing East.

The plots were regulated to point attachment, meaning cabin owners were not given measured plots, but rather, the right to set up a permanent cabin at a designated point and according to clearly defined rules. Architect Eyvind Alnæs developed the cabins to be approximately 30sqm each because they wanted the island to be publicly accessible. The privatization of joint ownership has taken place over time using hedges and trees. To this day, the island is still owned by Statsbygg.

At the same time, Oslofjordens friluftsråd was founded due to the inaccessible beach zone. As stated in Byggekunst, May 1934, this arose after people “felt on the body how good the sun is.” In this issue of Byggekunst they addressed the problem of the growing city. A city that was becoming denser was in need of open areas, which were not easy to find within the city center. The city had grown into Aker and Bærum, creating a shortage of beach areas.

Cover of Byggekunst, May 1934. 

In the same issue of Byggekunst, architect Eyvind Alnæs criticized how there had not been deliberate city planning in Oslo. Everything had just happened over time, land was sold by private players for instant cash flow. Land buyers had naturally bought plots along the sea, resulting in the private ownership of most of the beach zone. The goal of the new plan was to provide better access to open land and beach, as well as the improved treatment of beaches and islands in general.

Illustration by Author Based on Drawings by Eyvind Alnæs. St Hallvard, 1936. 

Illustration by Author. Site Plan of Lindøya. Original Cabin Type with Possible Extension.

In the mid-1930s, the Society for Oslo Byes Vel prepared a color plan for the island cabins at the same time as architect Eivind Alnæs was commissioned to prepare cabin plans for further development.

Image by Author. Lindøya 11.11.20

Image by Author. Lindøya 11.11.20

Today, Lindøya consists of only 300 privately owned cabins, where the plot is owned by the state. All cabin owners are organized in Lindøya Vel, established in 1922, which consists of a board responsible for the daily operation and maintenance of Lindøya. Lindøya has its own caretaker throughout the summer who clean, empty rubbish and toilets, and conduct general maintenance on the island.

Image by Author. Lindøya 11.11.20

Image by Author. Toilet Facilities on Lindøya 11.11.20

Today, it is difficult to buy a cabin at either Lindøya, Nakholmen, or Bleikøya—even though it was a working-class resort to begin with. The original ideas have not come to fruition and it is not the same socialist mindset, with price regulations, as it once was. Today, many of the cabins are owned by millionaires and the cottage prices have skyrocketed. In 1996, Aftenposten ran the headline, “millionaires occupy working-class holiday paradise”, when a cabin of 32 sqm was sold for 1.5 million kroner at Nakholmen. In 2017, a cabin with a limited view, no running water, and with an outdoor toilet, was sold for 4.7 million kroner. The price record was set in 2019 when a 28 sqm cabin at Nakholmen was sold for 6.55 million kroner.

Image by Author. Lindøya 11.11.20

Regulations have been stretched. Over the years, the construction of cladding, sheds, hedges, and jetties has contributed to giving the islands a privatized feel. In 2020, the theme “accessibility to the water” is still relevant. We should be pleased that the recently adopted zoning plan ensures that, not only the cottage environment but also, the right of public access is preserved. The cobblestones, beaches, and bathing jetties at Lindøya, Bleikøya and Nakholmen is an accessible paradise for anyone who wants to visit—and it is just a boat ride away.

Image by Author. Lindøya 11.11.20


Store Norske Leksikon, Lindøyaøya

St. Hallvard, nr. 1/2020 "Dengang Oslo fikk farger". s.12.

EKKO, Martin Jahr, "Okkupasjonen av Lindøya".

Eyvind, Alnæs. 1934. "Strandbehovet og de frie strender. De aktuelle oppgaver." Byggekunst 1934.

Bård Alsvik, "Sjøen for alle - stranda for få".

Beate Muri, "Arbeidernes Sjølbyge Sommerparadis".