Design Diplomacy in Denmark
Imagine a place where one in every 500 citizens is an architect; where architects are involved in every aspect of public life—from designing teapots to formulating public policy. No, it's not Utopia, it's Denmark, a country known for its design excellence, both traditional and modern, at every scale from consumer products to urban landscapes.
Last weekend, the capital, Copenhagen, hosted the international conference, "Design Diplomacy: Public Policy and the Practice of Architecture." Hundreds of architects and public officials from 20 countries convened at the city's Royal Library to discuss possible intersections between the design professions and civic life. These included:
- how architectural design can influence government policy
- the architect's potential role as advocate, politician, and community leader
- the leadership and design skills of architects who have shaped public-policy
- how architects who serve as public officials become more effective leaders
- how leadership helps architects' practice grow
One of the few architects who excels at civic leadership, The Honorable Richard Swett, FAIA, U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, was instrumental in organizing the conference. He previously served two terms in the U.S. Congress and does everything he can to encourage other architects to take on community leadership roles.
In his keynote address to the conference, Swett explained why he thinks this is so important. Throughout his political life, he said, "I have witnessed and participated in the maze of complex systems, governmental regulations, professional disciplines, special interest groups, grass-root community organizations, and big businesses, all seeking to affect our built environment.
One of the rare architects who is also a civic leader, The Honorable Richard Swett, FAIA, U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, has been instrumental in organizing an international design diplomacy conference recently held in Copenhagen.
Photo: American Institute of Architects
Views of Denmark, where design excellence permeates every aspect of life. Nyhavn, the port of Copenhagen, Denmark, continues to be a area of lively restaurants, shops, and a colorful harbor always full of boats.
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