Arna Mathiesen grew up on the outskirts of the Reykjavik Capital Area, where the intersection between the urban and the wild was her playground. She spent a year studying philosophy and art history in her native Iceland, before embarking on her architectural education elsewhere, as it was not available in her home country at that time. She received a BA in architecture at Kingston Polytechnic in the UK, studied architecture and sculpture in Oslo for a year and then a MArch from Princeton University in 1996.
Mathiesen is one of two founding partners of April Arkitekter AS, an architectural practice and research unit based in Oslo, with projects ranging from furniture to large housing estates and urban developments. She recently led a case study on the Reykjavik Capital Area before and after the financial meltdown, for The Oslo School of Architecture and Design.