Ambassador Erik Vilstrup Lorenzen’s speech at the 16th Architects’ Regatta on 24 June 2023, at Lake Balaton
I will firstly would like to thank the V4 Architectural Foundation and the Balaton Architect Sailing Regatta for inviting me to speak at this event. Thank you, Dr. Ernő Kálmán, president of the board of the Foundation and Attila Borsay, chief organizer of the Regatta for the warm welcome. From the 2nd to the 6th of July 2023, Copenhagen will host the World Congress of The International Union of Architects and we hope to see many of you there. This is the first time the event is hosted by a Nordic country and we are proud that UNESCO has elected Copenhagen the World Capital of Architecture in 2023.
The International Union of Architects was originally founded in Switzerland in 1948 to reunite architects after World War II and contribute to the re-building of war-torn Europe. This ambition also speaks to one of the key shared experiences between Danish and Hungarian architecture. In the autumn of 1944, the Hungarian Arrow Cross government decided that in order to save the people who would be rebuilding the future, post-war Hungary, several universities should be relocated to Germany. Among them, the Royal József Nádor University of Technology and Economics. While few volunteered to go, in the end four professors decided to lead the group and see this through for the sake of the students, who were able to avoid enlistment in the army this way. Eventually this group of the professors and the architects-in-training settled down in Denmark. During this time, they worked alongside many Nordic architects, here among Jørn Utzon – who would later design the Sydney Opera House. After the war ended, 51 of the students returned home to Hungary in 1946. This almost two-year-long journey had long-lasting impacts on the teachers and students, and through them, on Hungarian architecture. They became some of the most accomplished Hungarian architects of the 20th century. Their work continues to shape the urban landscapes of Hungary. What this story shows is that cooperation and the exchange of knowledge makes us all better at our craft. The fundamental idea of the World Congress hosted by Copenhagen this year is based on the principle of the exchange of know-how and ideas. In July, key stakeholders from all corners of the built environment: Professionals from both Danish and international architectural companies, urban developers, real estate and commercial investors will convene. Scientists, students, NGOs and politicians will come together to discuss how to build the future.
The 2023 World Congress will place a special focus on sustainable architecture of both the environmental and social kind. Copenhagen is well known for its high ambitions on climate solutions and Danish architecture is known for its focus on the human scale and its democratic approach to urban development. In Copenhagen, you can find a power plant with a ski slope on its roof, bicycle snake bridges, and floating harbour swimming pools.
The aim of the Congress is to provide a platform to discuss current challenges and possible future solutions. At the centre is the 17 sustainable development goals outlined by the United Nations. The built environment is a huge producer of waste, a huge consumer of energy and has a huge role to play in the inclusion of people everywhere. The goal is to promote, discuss, create, and showcase architecture as a vital tool to achieve the 17 UN goals and explore how innovation and multidisciplinary collaboration can bring real sustainable change to the built environment.