European spatial planning experts and policymakers will gather in Tallinn on 21 September under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and in collaboration with the Estonian Association of Architects. Architect Veronika Valk-Siska, one of the initiators of the conference, explains.
The architectural policy conference taking place within the framework of the Estonian Presidency of the EU will provide a survey of the recent developments, trends and success stories related to spatial planning and the architectural culture in the European countries. The keynote speaker of the conference is renowned Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas. And several other interesting speakers will also appear at the conference. They include Ciaran O’Connor, Ireland’s State Architect, who has been asked to speak to the attendees of the conference about the position of Ireland’s state architect, as well as the content, range and impact of his work. Leo Van Broeck will speak about the Belgian experience and, as the Flemish Government Architect, will focus on the architectural quality of the living environment. Lars-Christian Uhlig will speak about the German experience, and the aspirations and achievements of the local Baukultur architectural policy. The conference panellists also include representatives of the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE), founded in Italy in 1990. The goals of the organisation are to promote the appreciation of architecture in Europe, advance architectural quality in the built environment, ensure high standards of qualification for architects, foster cross-border cooperation and facilitate European practiceas well as to promote and defend the vision of European architects on the global scale, and much more. The ACE regularly conducts sectoral studies. The ACE membership is comprised of 47 member organisations from 33 different countries, and the organisation represents more than 550,000 architects throughout Europe.
The Association of Estonian Architects joined the ACE in 2004. Membership in the European umbrella organisation is important for the Estonian architectural community primarily because the sectoral directives, which must be adopted into Estonian legislation, are issued in Brussels, and the ACE is constantly impacting this process with its competences. ACE membership provides an important opportunity for Estonian architects to influence the decisions that impact their profession at the European Union level.
Broader focus – how to understand and measure the impact of space
In the broader sense, the conference will deal with the issue of how to weigh the cross-sectoral and spatial impact of decisions related to space, because when these decisions (at both the national and local level) are being weighed, their influence on the development of the built environment must be taken into consideration. When planning and developing a competitive living environment, it is important to focus on diversity that can promote the quality of life in the space – in the built environment, incl. the public space. The design of a living environment is comprised of spatial planning, architecture and construction.
What can we learn from the international experience discussed at the conference?
Similarly to the rest of Europe and the world, Estonia’s cities and regions are competing for investments and talent in the international arena. The winners will be the cities and locations that provide an excellent living environment, and thereby the best possible quality of life and development and career opportunities. If Estonia’s living environment is attractive and appreciated, it can support the development of Estonia’s entrepreneurial environment. The objective should be to have highly qualified local and foreign labour prefers Estonia as a place to live and work, and Estonia’s living environment should help to keep the local competent labour force in place and to attract competences from abroad.
Narrower focus – the export of architecture
The architectural policies that have been initiated in the European countries are very distinctive and have quite different focuses, but they all support the development of the field of architecture as a branch of the creative economy. We are interested in how a functioning architectural policy can provide support for architectural offices with export potential, in order to help them compete effectively on the domestic market as well as further away. Export, especially the export of architecture, requires the support of the domestic market in the form of commissions, but it is also important to define the possible target markets for Estonian architecture. Each target market requires a different approach and presents various possibilities for entering the market. For example, in order to enter the European architectural market, one must be familiar with the procurement (e.g. state procurement) systems of all the markets. The conference will deal with European architectural policy, which establishes specific frameworks for the functioning of the target markets – if Estonian architects wish to succeed in foreign markets, they must understand the corresponding specialised policy framework.
See more about the conference on the Ministry of Culture website.