Skip to main content


The prominently positioned neighborhood Lia (the hillside) consists of six rows of terraced housing. Each house has its own colour and steeply pointed gable, and as a group these houses have gained the Norwegian nickname "spisshusene", the pointed houses. Their foundations are made of pillars, which in the sloping terrain are hidden behind horizontal wooden cladding painted in the same colour as the rest of the house. The same hue is also repeated on balconies and under the extended roofs in order to create a more homogenous impression from a distance. Lia's colours are mainly in the red-yellow-green range though accentuated with a couple of bluish green houses. The choice of hues is carefully tuned to create unity. However, the great seasonal variation in natural light gives Lia different appearances throughout the year.

The houses in the road Vei 230 were the first to be painted in accordance with the new colour scheme, which was adhered to even when the residents had other preferences. Each colour is specified using the NCS system (Natural Colour System). The selection of colours for this neighborhood embodies the core concepts of the scheme which has become an important part of Longyearbyen's identity.

The idea of creating a unified colour scheme for the whole town came from Ingvald Ohm, the then director of Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani. Implementing the concept was possible because the company owned the vast majority of houses and other buildings in the community. It wasn't strictly necessary to paint the buildings because of the very dry climate, so the idea was based on aesthetic considerations. The colour designer Grete Smedal from Bergen was given the commission in 1981. Her plans were accepted without any alterations and the work on site started the same year. The Norwegian government also adopted the scheme for its buildings, and in 2002 the newly devolved local government incorporated the colour scheme into its planning regulations. There is now a complete record of the colours of every building in Longyearbyen, which makes both selecting colours within the scheme for new buildings and maintenance of the existing easier.

Bebyggelsen i Longyearbyen - fargesetting