In May 2018, the Swedish government passed a bill for a new national policy for architecture and design, entitled “Policy for Designed Living Environment” (Bill 2017/18:110). In connection with that, it was also decided that Sweden should, for the first time, appoint a national architect.
Helena Bjarnegård, appointed as Sweden’s first national architect, will be leading the work within the field of architecture nationally, providing a structure that supports those planning and building in Sweden to create well-designed towns and cities. The responsibility of the national architect is to represent these high ambitions and to embody the vision of the Swedish government to create more sustainable, equal cities, now and in the future. Having previously worked as a municipal architect and planner, Bjarnegård recognises the challenges that we face bringing together this holistic vision. But there can be no more compelling professional challenge than to try to lead a positive transformation of the standards in a nation’s architecture and urbanism. As the collaborations around the policy take shape, it is exciting and demanding to maintain a clear vision of what a good city is in the 21st century. Helena Bjarnegård hope that Sweden will soon provide compelling evidence of what is possible when everyone works together to improve people’s lives under a vision of equal, beautiful cities.
The national architect is also the chair of the Council for Sustainable Cities, a group that brings together the directors of a unique mix of government authorities whose work is affected by questions of design and environmental sustainability. These authorities include those directly engaged in building architecture, but also those with responsibility for infrastructure, environment, community participation and research.
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