Exporting Norwegian Architecture

Exporting Norwegian Architecture

10 million NOK (USD 1.2 mill) will be used to help Norwegian architects to gain a foothold abroad. The initiative is led by Innovation Norway and Design and Architecture Norway (DOGA). For the very first time, Norwegian architecture will have its own export program.

The Norwegian Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Culture are behind the historical initiative launched last Monday afternoon. The pilot program will last for one year, starting in autumn 2017.

Exporting Norwegian Architecture
Region City, Gothenburg: A complex and unstructured area in Gothenburg to be transformed into new Central Station with more inviting and user friendly spaces. A new city within the city. Illustration Reiulf Ramstad Architects.
Exporting Norwegian Architecture
Tor Inge Hjemdal. Photo: Reio Avaste

“Norwegian architecture has unique qualities in demand by international experts. Feedback we have received tells us that Norwegian architects in particular enjoy great respect in sustainability, climate and environment issues as well as social sustainability. Norwegian architects are also very good designers, where the relationship with landscape and nature is important. They are clever with materials and details and have an open mind for inclusive architecture. Our towns are compact, green and comfortable to live in. This makes us stand out in the architecture world,” says Tor Inge Hjemdal, director of architecture in DOGA.

Huge export potential
Although the architecture industry is profitable and generates a significant turnover on a Norwegian scale, 7 billion NOK in 2014, most of it happens in Norway. Despite some actors like Snøhetta, which has won prestigious contracts and raised signature buildings in other countries, export constitutes only 1 percent of the industry’s total revenue, according to Prognosesenteret.

“There are few architectural firms that have taken the plunge into the world, but those

Exporting Norwegian Architecture
Monica Mæland

who have, has received good results. Therefore it is gratifying to be able to help Norwegian architects to think more globally. Norwegian architecture originates from the Norwegian social model, creating inclusive and sustainable buildings and environments. We see this as a great export potential regarding what future cities will be facing worldwide,” says Minister of Economics Monica Mæland.

Local knowledge crucial
Collaborators DOGA and Innovation Norway will have completed the export program within next summer. Tor Inge Hjemdal suggests that efforts should be focused on 8 – 12 architect companies with clear ambitions to think internationally.

“Different countries and cities have different problems and needs. To succeed with this program, we need to gain more knowledge about the challenges, structures and competition in relevant markets, and combining this with the advantages Norwegian architect firms have,” said Hjemdal.

Exporting Norwegian Architecture
King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Snøhetta

Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helleland emphasizes that there is a strong and increasing interest in Nordic and Norwegian architecture.

“The industry has the knowledge and expertise that are in demand internationally. A number of architects are already participating on the international arena through exhibitions, international awards, and in discussions and development of the subject. It it should have a significantly greater export potential, and therefore we initiated this export program,” she said.

Exporting Norwegian Architecture
St. Kilda Visitor Center, Scotland: Visitor center under development on the island Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, a partnership with Dualchas Architects. Illustration of Reiulf Ramstad Architects.

Professor Anne-Britt Gran, manager of Oslo Business School Centre for Creative Industries, believes there is a considerable export potential in Norwegian architecture.

“Norway is known for good and sustainable architecture and excellent architectural solutions, and this is something we can promote,” says Gran. “Then you can hit the right market with the relevant enterprises and achieve valuable networking and knowledge experience,” she adds.

Exporting Norwegian Architecture is based on a press release

Feature image (on top): Aspern, Helen & Hard: One of Europe’s largest urban development projects in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Helen & Hard

Norwegian Architects Conquer the World


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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.