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IABR–2018+2020 is a two-part Biennale that has the Netherlands and Belgium as its workspace and the world as its source of inspiration.

Chief Government Architect of the Netherlands Floris Alkemade (FAA - Floris Alkemade Architect), Flemish Government Architect Leo Van Broeck (Bogdan & Van Broeck) and Belgian architect Joachim Declerck (AWB – Architecture Workroom Brussels) have been appointed the curators of the next two editions of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) in 2018 and 2020.

From the spring of 2017 until the summer of 2020, the IABR will focus on what the qualitative leap forward for our cities and landscapes is that the necessary response to today’s major challenges enables us to make.

Architecture, Climate Change, and Society

IABR–2018+2020 starts from the challenge that was put on the agenda of the world community in 2015 by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (COP21). They clearly marked a spot on the horizon. This allows an actual change of direction, a fundamental transition. But how do we advance? How do we activate our societies, and not in a defensive but in a positive way? What does the qualitative leap forward that this transition will allow our cities and landscape to make actually involve? Flemish Government Architect Leo Van Broeck: ‘The intention is to bring architectural quality, spatial quality and ecological quality together in one single narrative.’

Looking for Social and Ecological Profit

The three curators Alkemade, Van Broeck and Declerck will explore in what ways spatial transformation can respond to our major challenges. The workspace is the unique urban ecological and economic system of the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt Delta, the Low Countries where excessive land use is the norm and where we share many challenges. If we redesign the way we live, work, and dwell together in our urbanized delta we can proactively make space for the energy transition, for the transition to a circular economy, for inclusive urban development, and for an innovative approach to mobility problems, health care issues, and the food production and water challenges. IABR–2018+2020 provides a workspace as well as a platform for a future agenda. It will be a call to architects worldwide to help us link social themes to spatial problems that are urgent because of the climate change and the ensuing question of how to redesign space for the greater physical and social resilience of our cities and landscapes. In times of radical uncertainty, the IABR–2018+2020 deliberately focuses on offering action perspectives, on the design of that which we can want, and on the imagination and presentation of that which we can achieve as a society. Government Architect Floris Alkemade: ‘We need to look for the social value that each design challenge can add. To think about the future in terms of social and ecological profits, rather than imminent losses.’

Designing for the Future: Weaving Quality into a Narrative

The IABR is both a knowledge institute and a cultural platform and uses the power of imagination and design for goal-oriented work on actual change. Its methodology makes it possible to bring together many local and regional initiatives and challenges, to share existing insights, to develop new knowledge, and to test it in practice. More than ever before, the curators will take the opportunity of the IABR to create a shared space that stimulates meeting and interacting. With each other and with the world. One main objective is to bridge the gap between the many small-scale initiatives on the one hand and the huge scale of the social challenges that we face on the other. New socio-spatial practices can and must increase the speed, capacity, and quality of social transitions.

Culture as a Catalyst for Change

Paris marked a spot on the horizon and that forces us to step up our efforts to bridge the gap between research and implementation and to apply all of the knowledge we have more boldly and more effectively. That is why a two-part Biennale is a fitting format. The 2018 edition, a ‘work’ Biennale, will mainly be dedicated to research and knowledge exchange, debate and brainstorming sessions, whereas the burden of proof rests with the 2020 edition. IABR president George Brugmans: ‘I really look forward to collaborate with this unique Curator Team and to see all of its knowledge, networks, and research capacity put to great use in over three years of intensive, goal-oriented designing for the future. The appointment of these three curators and the format of a two-part edition allow the IABR to profit more than before from the fact that it is a twentyfirst-century Biennale. We have definitely moved beyond the format of “a festival of good projects,” key for us is to position the cultural platform as a catalyst for actual change in our delta and in the world.’

The Partners

The IABR is lead partner of the Dutch central government in the context of the Action Agenda Spatial Design of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. The IABR has entered into a long-term collaboration with the Belgian organization Architecture Workroom Brussels. The parties will be active in each other’s domains and benefit from each other's expertise. The focus is on taking research by design to the next level and on showing and more specifically helping to implement its results in the Netherlands and Belgium. As part of its multiyear policy plan 2017-2020, Towards a Resilient City, the IABR has entered into action-oriented collaboration agreements with Resilient Rotterdam (Department of Urban Development, City of Rotterdam) and with the Special Envoy for International Water Affairs (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment). Important (research) partners involved in the realization of the IABR–2018+2020 are the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the Atelier of the Dutch Government Architect, the Team of the Flemish Government Architect, AIR and the Veldacademie. The IABR receives multiyear subsidies from the city of Rotterdam and from the Creative Industries Fund NL.

Appointed curators of two-part IABR

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Press IABR
Rotterdam

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