In 1991 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands decided to promote national architecture abroad. All over the world new embassies were realised by prominent Dutch architects.
The buildings not only marked the highly original outcome of Dutch architecture, but represented the modern approach of Dutch diplomacy as well. International critics wrote enthusiastically about this new line up of mission architecture and rewarded many of the designs with prices. In 2007 the embassy in Addis Ababa received the most prestigious one: the Aga Khan Award.
After 20 years the Dutch government stopped the project for economic and political reasons. The Ministry of Foreign affairs declared on April 8th 2011: “We will move away from the traditional image of an embassy as a building with a flag and a mission staff.”
The film Mission Statements tells the story of four of the most outspoken new embassies. Paramaribo (Suriname) by Lafour & Wijk architects, the first in the row and the most vulnerable as it was built in the former colony Suriname. The Berlin embassy by Rem Koolhaas, that went 4 times over budget and became a hot spot for tourists. The embassy in Maputo (Mozambique) by Claus and Kaan architects, built in a country that just survived a bloody civil war. The embassy in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) by Bjarne Mastenbroek and Dick van Gameren, strongly referring to the Ethiopian monolithic rock hewn churches.
Mission Statements shows the background of the buildings and presents a stunning view behind the curtains of daily life in the embassies. Did the architecture really add to the diplomacy the Netherlands stand for? Mission Statements unveils the underestimated cultural aspect in international diplomacy and the misunderstanding that comes with it.