The National Museum in Norway has been chosen to curate the Nordic Pavilion for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, in collaboration with the Museum of Finnish Architecture, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design in Stockholm, and architectural firm Space Group. The exhibition, “FORMS OF FREEDOM: African Independence and Nordic Models” will study modern Nordic architecture’s role in the liberation of East Africa during the 1960s and 70s.
As the curators describe, “The liberation of Tanzania, Kenya, and Zambia in the 1960s coincided with the founding of development aid in the Nordic countries, where there was widespread belief that the social democratic model could be exported, translated, and used for economic growth and welfare. The leaders of the new African states, for their part, wanted partners without a murky colonial past and looked to emulate the progressive results achieved by the Nordic welfare states after WWII. The Nordic social democracies and the new African states established solid bonds built on a mutual belief in progress.”
The exhibition will revolve around two concepts: Building Freedom “denotes the architectural nation-building where masterplans were used to build cities and regions, prototypes and prefabricated systems were used to build education and health centres, and so on.” Finding Freedom, “conversely, denotes the experimental free area that emerged from this encounter between Nordic aid and African nation-building, where progressive ideas could be developed as architectural solutions on a par with the international avant-garde.”
Karl Henrik Nøstvik, whose archives remain intact, will be one of the few architects of the era studied. He was among the first employed by the Kenyan government in 1965, as part of the Norwegian aid package, to design the country’s first government building: The Kenyatta International Conference Centre, a national icon of independent, modern Kenya.
News via Nasjonalmuseet.