1200 sqm of art and coffee: North Urban Art Studio opens by the fjord

by Ashton Christensen

Sometimes it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on how much Aalborg has evolved in just the last 15 years.

It may be a bit of a cliché to always highlight how our city has gone from an industrial port to a modern metropolis/cultural city, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

For us, these thoughts inevitably find their way into our heads when we visit places like North Urban Art Studios at Akvavitvej 23. The new building is located next to the iconic “Spritten” and houses 1,200 square meters of pure art mecca on the ground floor.

With exposed pipes, tall columns, and grey concrete walls and floors, the industrial rooms don’t outright appear to be somewhere art and culture flourishes. However, the 20 artists renting space in the creative community have left their distinct and unique mark on the space.

Every available square meter is devoted to workshops, and there’s plenty to explore. In one corner, you’ll find abstract paintings, across from that there’s pottery drying, and further down the main hall, a cluster of people sit around a laptop discussing photography.

All stations share the common feature that they function as both an exhibition and a workplace for the artists. This certainly helps to give North Urban Art Studio its enjoyable atmosphere and striking authenticity as visitors navigate between splashes of paint and spray cans on the floor.

Room for everyone

North Urban Art Studio is the first of its kind in Aalborg. The unique mix of an art studio, artist community, lounge, event space, workshop, and coffee bar all structured within an area of over 1,000 square meters also means that it stands out nationally. 

Behind the initiative are Alessandro Painsi and Frida Stiil Vium, both professional artists – and huge Aalborg enthusiasts.

When we meet them in the art studio to learn more about the city’s new cultural beacon, Alessandro is carrying his daughter Nora on his arm, and Frida has donned her work clothes.

“I sometimes bring my dog. There’s always dogs and babies here,” Frida says with a laugh as we take a tour of the place.

Dogs, babies, art materials lying around, the option for a cup of specialty coffee at the coffee bar På Fjorden in the lobby of the studio… you quickly get the feeling that everything is possible here.

“There’s room for everyone,” Alessandro says, adding:

“We are so lucky we got this area. The ceilings are high, and we’ve built our little town here with the most incredible community.

Many people move away from Aalborg because there aren’t enough artistic opportunities here, and we want to prevent that. Both of us love Aalborg and think it’s the coolest city in the world, and one of the reasons we’ve built this is also to show that you can have an artistic career here.”

Whether you’re a professional artist or just do art as a hobby, you can become part of North Urban’s community. All types of art are welcome, because as Alessandro explains, art can be much more than just visual art.

“We don’t care if people are established or not. What matters is how they present themselves as people – whether they’re positive and fit into our community,” Frida explains.

Coffee and art in inspiring surroundings

The rooms at Akvavitvej 23 are brand new, but the artists’ community started back in 2020 when Frida and Alessandro set up the studio in an older brick building close by Spritten. 

However, issues with the cold meant it wasn’t sustainable for their dream of a creative meeting place. Therefore, it was a godsend when Enggaard offered to rent the new building opposite Spritten.

“At first, we wondered if it was too big of a gamble with so much space, but we quickly filled all 17 seats, and we’re trying to create even more workstations for more artists,” Alessandro says.

The waiting list for a spot in the North Urban Art Studio is already long, and this suggests that the two artists have met a great need among Aalborg’s creative citizens.

“What people tell us is that it’s great to have a community because you’re not alone and aren’t judging your work by yourself. Sometimes the hard thing about being an artist is that you don’t get other eyes on your art until the exhibition itself. Here we have ongoing dialogue and feedback,” Frida elaborates.

North Urban Art Studio now fulfils an essential need for artists in the form of a physical space to create art, however it’s also a haven that facilitates competent feedback – and one must not forget the marketing and financial aspect. 

People can come in off the street and explore all 1,200 square meters. Depending on whether or not you want to enjoy a coffee with a friend in the inspiring surroundings, or just want to buy art directly from the artist themselves, you are absolutely welcome no matter what.

“We’re putting up more signs, including introductions of the artists so it’s open and easy to buy art if that’s what you want. There will also be everything from workshops to events and art talks,” Frida says.

There’s plenty to look at and soon there will also be a huge open house. The date hasn’t been set yet, but the two co-founders encourage people to keep an eye on their Facebook page and Instagram.

We should also mention that the lounge at the North Urban Art Studio will serve as a replacement for studie:rummet, which served as a creative and innovative space for students since 2018. Most recently it was located at Østre Havn, but has now made its way to Akvavitvej.

A preview of the artists in the North Urban Art Studio:

  • Alessandro Painsi / Co-Founder – Artist. Alessandro is the co-founder of NUAS. He works with mixed media paintings and sculptures.
  • Frida Still Vium / Co-Founder – Street Artist. Frida aka Projekt NADA is a street artist and co-founder of NUAS. She loves expressing herself through art. 
  • Marc Ørum Halabi – Artist. Marc works with abstract paintings because they allow him to express himself. His vibrant colors reflect his high energy level.
  • Tarik Boskailo – Artist. Tarik is an artist who works primarily with spray art. He loves creating art because of the endless possibilities.
  • Christina Thomsen – Artist. Christina works with graffiti, acrylics, oils, watercolors and digital art. She loves to work with expressions, realism and surrealism. 
  • Trine Bruun Hansen – Ceramics. Trine, aka Bruuns Keramik is a ceramic artist who creates ceramic cups, bowls, plates, and much more.
  • Samuel Kanu – Photo and video. Samuel is a photographer who creates video commercials, product images and other photo and video content.
  • Pineapple Media – Media bureau.

Read more about North Urban Art Studio and the artists here.