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Official visit to Malaysia: Opening of exhibition

Speech by Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess at the opening of an exhibition of Norwegian architecture in Kuala Lumpur during official visit to Malaysia, March 2010.

Honorable ministers,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

What is Norwegian architecture today?

The more we consider the national character of, for instance, art, design, or contemporary architecture, the more unclear such a concept often becomes. Like the rest of our society, architecture is being influenced by global trends more than ever before. Geographical and cultural barriers are shifting radically.

But a country’s architecture is also tied to its historical, economic, political and natural conditions. To a greater extent than is the case for other works of art, architecture reflects the society from which it has evolved. It reflects the country’s cultural and economic level, reveals its technical competence, and gives us an indication of its societal structures.

Architecture also reflects different times, personalities, ideas and ideologies. In a historical perspective, the Norwegian building tradition has produced few monumental buildings. This is now changing. Today, we see a new generation of architects who are not only creating new buildings, but also new landmarks. One example is the new Opera House in Oslo, an outstanding piece of architecture designed by the firm Snøhetta.

Other examples are the Oslo Fjord City Plan, a large and ambitious urban development that includes new landmarks as well as smaller projects. There is also the National Tourist Routes project, where remarkable contemporary architecture and design meet the stunning Norwegian landscape along 18 national tourist routes.

I am pleased that outstanding Malaysian architects are well represented here today. I would like to highlight some major achievement Malaysian architects have been responsible for: The first Eco friendly office tower in Subang Menara Mesiniaga, the 60 storey Komtar Tower in Penang, the Putrajaya Convention Centre and last but not at least the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. This underlines that there is a vibrant and innovative architectural presence in Malaysia.

We are about to be introduced to two other outstanding Norwegian architectural firms, Jensen & Skodvin and Jarmund/Vigsnæs Architects.

Jarmund/Vigsnæs’ works span from small private cabins to large public buildings such as the new School of Architecture and Design in Oslo. The works shown in the exhibition “Lost in Nature” show the full range of how architecture can relate to nature, often resulting in buildings that are both in harmony with, but also strikingly in contrast to their surroundings.

The exhibition “Works” by Jensen & Skodvin presents highlights from their extensive production, ranging from creative tourist route projects to cultural buildings such as a church and a new monastery for Cistercian nuns, presenting innovative architecture in harmony with nature.

Both firms have received several international prizes, both firms have attracted international media attention and have presented exhibitions of their works in Europe, America and now in Asia.

Seeking inspiration from other countries is extremely important. Traditionally, Norwegian architects have travelled widely in order to learn from others. Today, Norwegian architects are also contributing to the international architecture scene through lectures, seminars and exhibitions, and by winning awards and competitions abroad. All the three Norwegian firms I have just mentioned will give presentations at today’s seminar. That will provide an excellent arena for discussions and the exchange of ideas and experiences. I hope it will also contribute to developing a network of Malaysian and Norwegian architects.

I would like to thank the Malaysian Institute of Architects for their valuable contribution, the President of PAM, Boon Che Wee, and the organizer Lim Aun Giap. It is my pleasure to declare this exhibition and the seminar open.

Thank you.

10.03.2010

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