According to the global affairs magazine Monocle, Britain’s cultural cache is at an all-time high.
The magazine’s latest annual Soft Power Survey (which measures the “Soft Power” of a country, or “the ways in which a nation can shape the world without relying on financial muscle and overwhelming force”) placed the UK as the world’s greatest cultural influencer, dethroning the US for the first time.
The magazine cites the UK’s action-packed year, which included the Queen’s Jubilee, the success of pop-culture phenomena (like Adele and James Bond), and the Summer Olympic Games, as the catalyst which put them on top.
But let’s not underestimate the role that architecture has played as a symbol of Britain’s cultural import. Despite financial difficulties (which have put London’s burgeoning skyline in doubt), the year was nevertheless a good one for Britain’s architecture and architects - Renzo Piano‘s controversial Shard hogged the spotlight in London’s Olympic coverage; Dame Zaha Hadid, Glamour’s Woman of the Year, has been non-stop in the media thanks to her Aquatics Centre and Galaxy Soho; and, to top it off, British megafirm Foster + Partners will soon be responsible for many of New York’s latest skyscrapers. Talk about the Empire striking back.
Find out who else made the list of most influential countries, after the break…
The power of the Olympic Games can also be seen in Brazil‘s rise from #21 to #17 and in the first-time inclusion of Turkey, a country which has been cultivating its bid (and its architecture) for the 2020 Olympics. Other countries to make the list include the design and architecture heavyweights of Northern Europe: Finland (#13; Helsinki has been this year’s World Design Capital), Denmark (#7), and Sweden (#5).