Architecture, Rebellion The Minister strikes back strongly at the “Architecture Uprising Norway”: – At best a siding in the debate

The movement is gaining more and more supporters, but the Conservative politician believes the debate is somewhat unvarnished.

On Tuesday, Nettavisen discussed the Instagram group Arkitektopprøret Norge, which addresses what they believe is a criticisable development in the architecture in the country – and especially how new buildings are designed in Oslo.

In a short time, the account had gained over 11,000 followers, and the men behind the group, Erik Holm and Saher Sourouri, tell Nettavisen that they have received many messages of support and gained several thousand more followers after the case was reported in the media.

One of those who spoke in the case, and who cheers on the duo, is City Councilor for Urban Development in Oslo, Rasmus Reinvang (MDG). He told Nettavisen that part of the problem today is that the municipality cannot make demands on colors or aesthetics in regulatory matters. The legislation here is the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization, led by Conservative Nikolai Astrup, according to Reinvang.

Criticizes the debate

The online newspaper has subsequently confronted Minister of Local Government and Modernization Astrup (H) with the criticism. He thinks the debate is good, but is also aware that the discussion about “pretty” and “ugly” architecture is at best a siding in the debate.

– I think it is positive with debate and commitment around architecture and housing construction. I personally believe that it is important to build in a sustainable way, which works both financially, environmentally and socially. If we are to build for the future, we must build high-quality homes in inclusive neighborhoods with human-friendly and varied architecture. There are good reasons why we have demolished and built new through the ages, so the debate becomes a bit unvarnished if you take as a starting point that everything was better before, says Astrup to Nettavisen.

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– Why are the municipalities not allowed to set requirements for colors and aesthetics, as Reinvang claims?

– The municipalities have great freedom to set requirements, both when it comes to the choice of colors, materials and design of buildings. It is clear from the Planning and Building Act. But it may seem that the municipalities are not so good at using this freedom of action, says Astrup.

Hope the minister listens

Holm and Sourouri respond to the statements about sustainable construction:

– There is of course nothing in the way of using modern technology that ensures climate-friendly solutions when building in a classic style today. Experience of beauty is a basic human need and deficit on such causes dissatisfaction and ill health and public spaces that the authorities create. This is the crux of the matter. We hope that the minister listens to the message and takes it seriously, Holm tells Nettavisen.

The creators of the movement also point to the United Kingdom, where major changes in site development policy in favor of increased user influence have recently been politically adopted.

– It is nice to read that the Minister welcomes the debate. We share his desire for a humane and sustainable place development. However, we experience that the Minister hides behind vague and general formulations. The problem is that place development is an area with a great lack of political control.

Builders open up

The online newspaper has also been in contact with developers and engineers who support the architectural uprising. Several with knowledge of the processes say that “there are many camels that must be swallowed” to secure the contracts for major construction projects.

– Developers have great freedom to use what is the community’s concern as their private dairy cow by creating buildings where maximizing earnings is the only thing that matters. The result is that both architects and the population have minimal influence on how our cities are developed. We believe this is a major democratic problem. We want a more knowledge-based policy where it is built on the basis of the population’s wishes, and not on the builders ‘and taste judges’ premises, Holm rages.

Theme in the Conservative Party

Parliamentary representative in the Conservative Party, Stefan Heggelund, supports the architectural uprising. In a conversation with Nettavisen, it became clear that the politician did not have a clear solution to the challenge, but that he expected something to happen.

– Honestly, I think both I and these accounts on social media hit a mood. People are starting to get enough of how their own towns or cities are so completely aligned, Heggelund said then.

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He is now supported by Astrup.

– I agree with Heggelund that it is a goal to build more varied, more socially sustainable and more inclusive and human-friendly. Only then can we build homes and buildings that can stand for many generations to come, Astrup’s party colleague answers.

“Nice” and “ugly”

He is still clear on one thing: It is too easy to say that something is objectively pretty and something objectively ugly:

– There will always be different views on architecture and what kind of building is beautiful and what homes we want to live in. I therefore believe that a debate about “nice” and “ugly” is a side track. It is also important to remember that there are many reasons why we will not build in the same way in 2021 as we did 200 years ago. Among other things, it is about building buildings that people thrive in, that people can afford to buy, and that are good for the environment. There are also many good examples of modern architecture that people enjoy. But a debate about how we build for the future – with good, inclusive neighborhoods with human-friendly and varied architecture – I welcome! says Astrup.

Holm and Saher believe, however, that it is time for more action, and less words. The creators of the movement accuse the minister of not knowing enough about the case – and point to what they believe is great dissatisfaction in the population in general.

– There is good documentation that the vast majority of the population prefers classical architecture. This is not a question of “before” and “now” or 2021 vs 200 years back as Nikolai Astrup says, but a question of which architectural qualities are well-being-promoting, says Holm.

And adds:

– It may seem that the minister is not familiar with this type of knowledge as he claims that ugly and pretty is just a matter of taste. There are many studies that have documented that up to 80% of the population prefers classical architecture to the styles that have been dominated in recent times, yet absolutely nothing is built from this.

When asked whether the ministry has considered action, through changes in the legislation, Astrup answers:

– We are always open to input on how the legislation can be improved. But the municipalities already have a wide access to make demands, so one can also ask whether they use it well enough.


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