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Oslo Architecture Triennale - After Belonging

Speech given by His Royal Highness The Crown Prince at the opening of Oslo Architecture Triennale 9 September 2016.

Dear Hosts,
Ladies and gentlemen

Once upon a time there were three little pigs. The first little pig built a house of straw. The second little pig built his house with sticks. They built their houses very quickly and then sang and danced all day. The third little pig worked hard all day and built his house with bricks. We all know what happened next. The big, bad wolf attacked and only the brick house of the third little pig survived.

Everyone who has ever read a bedtime story for their children knows that after a story, comes a stream of questions. Why didn’t the three little pigs just build a house together? Why didn’t they at least ask each other for help? What about the carbon footprint of all of this? Did the third little pig at least use carbon negative bricks? Why didn’t they just hire an architect? Some of your kids would probably ask that.

It sure would have saved them a lot of trouble. That’s only one of the lessons of the story.

In a hyper connected world, many of us might feel that our “home” is less connected to one specific space. We feel at home in many places.

Still, when a young girl is forced by war to leave her country, neighborhood, house and room, the connection between physical space and belonging might feel more apparent.

In a time of constant change, transition and increased migration it is more important than ever to remember that our buildings are more than mere shelters. Our identity and sense of belonging affects and is affected by the surroundings we build for ourselves.

Or as Winston Churchill so aptly put it: “We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us”.

That’s why I am so happy to be here at this important meeting place where you have come together to discuss topics related to belonging in our time. 

I believe that you have the answers to some of the major challenges the world faces today.

By 2050 about 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. How can we ensure urban mobility with the constant increase in city dwellers- without sacrificing biodiversity and the environment?

New patterns of living and moving around in cities is facilitated by new technology and the sharing economy. How can we plan and build cities in a way that enables us to take advantage of this progress?

The increase in refugees and migrants creates an urgent need for housing in many cities. How can we accommodate people in a way so they feel at home where they are, even if it’s just temporary?

Be it urbanism, climate change or increased migration -  you have a role. The topics and program you have chosen for this conference and the Oslo Architecture Triennale as a whole is a testimony of your readiness to do your part.

When we have to adapt to new situations and respond to pressing needs we are forced to innovate and re-think to arrive at the solutions. Challenges and opportunities are two sides of the same coin.

Or as this year’s Pritzker Price Winner Alejandro Aravena answered when he was asked about the social responsibility of architects:

"We believe that the advancement of architecture is not a goal in itself, but a way to improve people's quality of life”.

Beside teaching us the importance of architects, the tale of the three little pigs teaches us that;

we need to plan for current and possible challenges when we build;

we need to listen to each other in order to plan buildings and cities in the best possible way;

and even when we have to build quickly to meet urgent needs, we need to consider the environmental and social footprint.

The Oslo Architecture Triennale is an important arena for having this conversation.  It is therefore a real pleasure for me to hereby declare the international conference After Belonging open. 




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