Architectural Quality and Cultural Heritage Values in Economic Analysis

Marie Oline Giske Stendebakken, Nils O.E. Olsson


This article examines the evaluation of architectural quality in socioeconomic analyses of large public building projects in Norway. From a socio-economic perspective, a new building can be designed well or even better than existing buildings, based on a theoretical model that mimics the dynamics of society. However, it seems that this field does not appreciate how demanding it is to create and replace quality architecture. In Norway in recent years, several protected buildings and exceptional architectural works have been left empty or demolished. The resistance to the vacation and loss of these structures seems to come as a surprise to decision makers. This article examines documentation that serves as a basis for investment decisions for large, public building projects, specifically for the choice of concept, under the Norwegian Quality Assurance (QA) scheme. These documents are influenced by a socioeconomic perspective and this article investigates how the affected buildings significant values are described in the QA documentation. Architectural qualities are seldom mentioned in such documents; however, when they are mentioned, existing qualities are typically dismissed, or the focus is placed on the limitless possible qualities of future buildings. There is a need for a greater understanding of architecture within the scope of socio-economic analyses in order to make more informed decisions.

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