Speech

The Art of Architecture by Foster + Partners

Kuala Lumpur is the first city in Southeast Asia to host Foster + Partners world-renowned architecture exhibition.

“YBhg Dato’ Mohammed Medan Abdullah, Senior General Manager, PG Group, Corporate Affairs, Petronas

David Nelson, Senior Partner, Foster + Partners

Ladies & Gentlemen.

I’m delighted to have been asked to officiate at the opening of the Foster + Partners Art of Architecture exhibition here at the Galeri Petronas.

There are a number of reasons for this.

The UK is often accused of not having many iconic world brands these days. I don’t agree. For my money British architecture is an iconic world brand in itself and Foster + Partners are an iconic brand themselves.

I’m especially pleased that Foster + Partners chose Kuala Lumpur as the first city in Southeast Asia to host their critically acclaimed Art of Architecture exhibition. As Director of UK Trade & Investment for Malaysia, it is my role to promote British business, talent and innovation and this exhibition will make my job a whole lot easier!

More seriously, I firmly believe Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur in particular play a crucial role as the gateway to the ASEAN region for business. Foster + Partners have therefore made the right decision to make Kuala Lumpur the first city in the region in which to exhibit their work spanning the past forty years.

I have been lucky enough to be responsible for covering the Asia Pacific region in my job for almost 20 years, and have travelled right across the region. During this time, Foster + Partners architecture has been a key feature in a number of the cities I have been fortunate to visit, from Hong Kong International airport and Beijing international airport to the Troika building here in Malaysia where Foster + Partners are based. Of course, Foster’s first building here in Malaysia was the University Teknologi Petronas, which received the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007. Foster + Partners continue to go from strength to strength having not long ago won the right to design the master plan for the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong. Having been living in Hong Kong at the time, I know how difficult it was to win that project.

Despite the number of challenges involved in building their business in Asia, Foster + Partners have successfully brought their talents into many Asian countries and in so doing have set an example for many other British companies to follow. Their tenacity, determination, creativity and innovation are just some of the characteristics of their business that I truly admire.

In my own home town of London, Foster + Partners have delivered many iconic designs, including structures as varied as the Swiss Re Building, popularly known as the gherkin, Wembley Stadium and the Great Court at the British Museum.

Over the years I have encountered many companies looking to do business in Asia. One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen them make is to assume a product they have successfully sold in one market can automatically be sold in another. This is an approach that 99 out of 100 times is doomed to fail. Foster + Partners on the other hand have always demonstrated terrific ability to design buildings and infrastructure that are in keeping with the needs and environment of the individual market they are working in. This, together with their ability to innovate and create ground-breaking designs is a really important factor behind their continuing success. These traits will be obvious to the visitors to this exhibition.

One of the themes my organization has been focused on in this region has been that of Smart Cities, Smart Living. In December last year, The Rt Hon Alan Duncan MP led a mission around this theme to Malaysia. Foster + Partners were a key speaker in a major seminar we organized for that mission. Among other things they spoke about sustainability in building design, an area in which their business has been focused for many years. In a country such as Malaysia, growing as fast as it is, such expertise will undoubtedly be a key driver to further success for their business. It will also be invaluable to the ambitions of the Malaysian government to deliver continued economic prosperity and growth under the country’s Economic Transformation Programme.

We intend to help UK businesses, including Foster + Partners, make more of this opportunity through promoting the UK’s green agenda and capability at the inaugural Ecobuild South East Asia exhibition to be held in Kuala Lumpur later this year.

Ladies and gentleman, it is a real pleasure to be here today and to be talking about a subject I am passionate about – British expertise, creativity and innovation. Foster + Partners are a fantastic example of these qualities which I am sure will be evident at the exhibition and, more importantly, will deliver a more sustainable and enhanced living environment for Malaysia as the country develops into the future.

Thank you.

Further information

The exhibition presented by Galeri Petronas Design & Architecture will run from 7 March – 12 May and features 49 monumental structures and architecture landmarks by Foster + Partners.

Foster + Partners

Contact UKTI in Malaysia

Photo above copyright Foster + Partners. Used with their permission.