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I remember especially Göran Tannerfelt, CEO of SIDA(Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) who supported me unflinchingly and also Sten Lööf, SIDA’s project manager, who saw to it that the project’s funds were used correctly and that everything went according to plan and on time, even though we did not always see eye-to-eye on things. Gotland in the Summer of 2012Snorre Lindquist Chapter 1 A beautiful morning in early summer of 1997 when I was on my way to work in the Old Town of Stockholm, I met my colleague Alexis Pontvik.
I would also like to thank my friend Lasse Wilhelmson for his untiring encouragement, help and good advice that have made my story possible. He had assembled the programme that would launch a competition for architects, involving a square and a culture centre opposite Bethlehem’s Nativity Church. But my wife and I were going away on holiday in three weeks time so I had not even considered taking part. ” asked Alexis “It ought to be right up your street”.
Later on, when I had put together my team of Swedish architects, our thoughts turned to the lives of the people of the city.
We saw hundreds of Muslims praying on Manger Square outside the Omar Mosque.
I was lucky to have my colleagues at hand – Erik Möller, Karim Mehdi (then Raileanu) and Per Axelsson were my sounding boards and advisers and their reactions gave me self-confidence and ideas.
I became ever more involved the deeper I delved into the assignment.The millennium celebrations would be a time when hundreds of millions focused on how Bethlehem was being restored, preparing to receive thousands of tourists and pilgrims. Patriarchs representing the four oldest Christian communities sat in front of the podium, peacefully lined up in their distinguished traditional black attire. For hundreds of years, in fact since the beginning of AD 800, because of Charlemagne’s conflict with the Byzantine Empire, the Christian communities, especially Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox Catholics, have been enemies and competitors for the ownership of The Nativity Church.They have fought in various underhand ways for every centimetre of floor space (among other things, these disputes are said to have led to the outbreak of the horrific Crimean War in 1853).It suddenly occurred to me that I could take some time off and that I might enjoy the competition, a pleasant way to pass the time before our holiday started. Serious work as an architect involves a visit to the location before sketching begins.I am a little ashamed that I was not able to do this, but time was too short.