On the occasion of the Launch of the Villa Magazine "Norwegian Villas Issue"
March 8 th 2021.
Dear Amir Abbas Aboutalebi, ladies and gentlemen, salam, and a good afternoon to you,
I am honoured to be here today, for this Launch of a “Norwegian Villas Edition” of Villa Magazine.
And it is a great pleasure to celebrate International Women’s Day with you all in this way, together with my wife Vibeke and good colleague, Mahsa.
Nature – perspective, topography, landscape - is never far away in Norway and continues to be an essential feature of many of our architectural projects.
Our buildings are subjected to powerful natural forces, to prolonged periods of ice and snow, along with rain, sun and wind, creating the need for high-quality, durable architecture.
Wood is a widely available, well-known building material, both in today’s construction industry and historically, with our unique stave churches and the long Norwegian shipbuilding traditions.
Also, materials such as stone, steel or glass are used to reflect the surrounding landscape in modern buildings. Some are even designed to appear at one with nature, like Oslo’s opera house which seems to float like an iceberg on the fjord.
This is Norwegian architecture making international headlines and that most people hear about. But in reality, buildings such as these are exceptions; they stand out amongst the majority of buildings being built in Norway today. To appreciate the true nature of a broader range of Norwegian architecture, we need to look deeper.
Historically, Norwegian architecture was mainly a modest and practical interpretation of continental styles, or sturdy homes and utilitarian buildings. Today, construction is Norway’s largest land-based industry, measured in the number of companies, and the total turnover amounts to about 15% of the country’s value creation.
The oil industry, by comparison, contributes about 22%. About 30% of new buildings in Norway today are designed by architects. Seen in a global context, where only 2% of buildings are designed by architects, this is high, but it is still low compared to how much is being built in Norway at the moment.
That is why the few projects that really stand out are exceptions, but they are important because they highlight innovative thinking and because they have achieved something despite, not because of, the realities of today’s building industry in Norway.
What Villa Magazine is doing with this new issue being launched today is to invite us home to Norwegians, to their residential houses and cottages.
You open doors and facilitate dialogue across borders, what essentially I am trying to do as Ambassador in Iran.
That makes you, Amir, and your colleagues, important Ambassadors, too. For Iran, for Norway and for architecture and design.