For more information, interview requests and images, please contact the IABR
For more information, interview requests and images, please contact the IABR
DOWN TO EARTH reopens
After months of lockdown, DOWN TO EARTH reopens on 9 June 2021 with two exhibitions: RECLAIMING THE COMMONS and WATERSCHOOL M4H+.
photography: Aad Hoogendoorn
DOWN TO EARTH
While there is no denying the seriousness of the current pandemic, the climate and biodiversity crisis is increasingly and urgently confronting us with the fact that we have pretty much ruined our relationship with the planet.
Science warns us: we’re almost at the tipping point. This puts us on high alert and forces us to radically change how we think and act, to create design solutions that will concretely and sustainably allow us to land.
image: Studio Makkink & Bey with Juhee Hahm
You can download the full press release at the bottom of this page.
The board of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) has appointed director of Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT) and professor of Socioeconomic Transitions at the Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences DERK LOORBACH as chief curator of the next edition of the IABR, SHOCK AND ROLL.
picture: Gaby Jongenelen
SHOCK AND ROLL will also initiate a long-term collaboration of the IABR, DRIFT, and the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design (RAvB), an alliance of imaginers, transitionists and designers.
IABR director George Brugmans: ‘With the appointment of Derk Loorbach the IABR wants to take a crucial next step in actively helping to put into practice what the climate objectives are crying out for: everything has to change. This is all the more urgent now that the corona crisis has revealed our inadequacy and made it clear that we really have to organize society differently if we want to be able to face the rapidly increasing threat of the much more serious climate crisis before it’s too late. I have asked Derk to bring together the fields of design and transition with the aim of taking us from research by design to development by design. Supported by a team of young curators, it is up to Derk to turn the IABR into a transition design practice. So that we can accelerate. So that there’s more action, with a greater socioeconomic impact. To show what everything has to change means, that we have to let go of a lot, but also that we can move forward, and how: shock and roll.’
Derk Loorbach: ‘The pandemic has acted as a magnifying glass and is contributing to a significant growth in support for transformative change. Now it’s a question of linking the momentum to competencies: unlocking the lessons and experiences of effective transition practices for a large audience. Showing people that it works and how it works. This is what we need to do. In concrete terms, it means that we are going to make transition as well as make transition practice visible. SHOCK AND ROLL will be one big transition experiment and action research project.’
To download the full press release, click here
DOWN TO EARTH will start on 19 September with a first exhibition, DROUGHT IN THE DELTA. The second exhibition, WHOSE ENERGY IS IT, ANYWAY?, will open on 30 October. Both exhibitions will take place in the IABR’s new home, the Keilezaal, in the Merwe-Vierhavens District in Rotterdam.
© IABR, SMV
IABR director and DOWN TO EARTH lead curator George Brugmans: ‘Without wishing to detract from the seriousness of the current pandemic, these two exhibitions show that the IABR is on point with regard to what we see as today’s most pressing challenge: that of climate change. Insidiously, yet almost daily, it confronts us with new challenges and their consequences. Take the Netherlands. After three extremely dry summers in a row, the Dutch suddenly realize that freshwater shortages are imminent and that we have to re-design our delta. And we know we have to stop using natural gas in our homes. However, we don’t really know what to do to meet these challenges in a way that keeps everyone on board and ensures that people will get to co-own the transition rather than just be presented with the bill. These are issues that our research has been focusing on.’
DROUGHT IN THE DELTA and WHOSE ENERGY IS IT, ANYWAY? present the results of research by design carried out over the past two years by the IABR and its many partners. As the exhibitions include concrete proposals and striking imaginations of practical solutions, the IABR, as a knowledge institute and cultural platform, purposefully contributes to real change toward more sustainable cities.
You can download the full press release at the bottom of this page
Given the current circumstances, business as usual is not an option, of course, and that goes for the IABR as well. So, it’s not surprising that many have asked us how the Covid-19 pandemic will impact the planning of IABR–2020–DOWN TO EARTH. In this newsletter I want to inform you of where we currently stand.
The coronavirus has put the whole world on hold and given mankind a truly unique opportunity to take a good hard look at where we’re at. Evidently, we’ve made a mess of our relationship with the planet. As with the climate and biodiversity crises, the pandemic is a direct consequence of human activity, particularly our global economic and financial systems with their stress on endless compound growth and the necessity to exploit nature to its limits. But unlike these other crises, threats that gradually sneak up on us, the pandemic is a grim warning of how nature can suddenly surprise us at any moment. What the coronavirus tells us is that we should no longer fool ourselves and stop clinging to the notion that we’re able to create an autonomous ecosystem, separate from the rest of the biosphere. It’s just not sustainable.
Though not much of a silver lining, the pandemic also shows that DOWN TO EARTH’s core questions are spot on, and more urgent than ever. Indeed, how do we recover our just place on earth, and in harmony with nature? Where can we land?But ‘told you so’ is not a very productive approach for a biennale to have. Exactly because our core questions stand, the pandemic forces us to rethink how to express and frame them, and to focus even harder on the how now part of bringing about the comprehensive transformational change that’s so urgently needed.
How? I have no trouble admitting that I don’t know yet, because trying to run ahead of ourselves would surely be counterproductive. But what I do know is that Covid-19’s deep impact clearly communicates the need to strongly resist scurrying back to normal as soon as we think it’s safe again. Because, and this has been pointed out by many others, normal is exactly the problem.
What’s more, trying to run ahead of ourselves would also be imprudent given that we as well as most of our partners are working at home and in various stages of lockdown all over the world. We’re in the midst of what feels like a global game of Chinese whispers and right now is not a good time for us to prepare for the complicated logistic operation that every biennale is.
We have therefore decided not to keep planning for the opening of the biennale in the first weekend of September, meaning that DOWN TO EARTH will be rescheduled.
This decision is confirmed by the most recent resolutions of the Dutch government. While new rules for relaxing the current physical-distancing restrictions will take effect in the coming weeks, festivals and other events that bring a lot of people together remain prohibited until 1 September. In other words, whether opening the biennale in the first weekend of September would have been viable at all would have remained uncertain for at least another two or three months.
What does this mean for the timing of and approach to DOWN TO EARTH?
The honest answer to this question is that, once again, I don’t know. We are now exploring different scenarios and keeping our options open, both in terms of planning and of the form the biennale will take. The only thing that is certain, if – and that’s a big if – circumstances allow us to organize a proper international exhibition at all, it will not open until very late in the year or, much more likely, even be postponed until the spring of 2021.
However, we may still decide to start in September or October, but initially only in very small settings and/or in an online environment, to find out what works and what doesn’t, and then decide whether we can still move towards a physical exhibition that is adaptive and corona proof. An exhibition that will subsequently end with its Opening, that is, an opening towards the future that we would want DOWN TO EARTH to conclude with.
In the next weeks, we will further explore the different scenarios and expect to secure the ongoing support of our funders and partners for every possible course of events. We will have narrowed down our options by the end of May and we hope to be able to make ‘final yet expiration date unknown’ decisions by the middle of June. We’ll keep you posted.
Again, stay healthy, sane and safe!
Merwe-Vierhavens District (M4H).
©John Gundlach - De Beeldunie
The exhibition centers on our future in the Delta of the Low Lands, in the
Netherlands and Belgium. Six successive spaces take visitors on a quest for
The Missing Link: We know what we have to do to successfully transition to a
resilient future, so what is stopping us?
The IABR will not be stopped. In the IABR–Atelier Rotterdam, for
example, the City of Rotterdam and the IABR jointly work on one of the
Netherlands’ first energy neighborhoods in Bospolder-Tussendijken, in
collaboration with the Delfshaven Coöperatie and housing association
Havensteder. Together with the City and the Port of Rotterdam, the IABR is
also exploring how former city harbor M4H and the surrounding
neighborhoods can be turned into a testing ground and showcase for a
technologically and socially successful energy transition in Rotterdam in the
The press release can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.
In Rotterdam, the main exhibition is on show in the HAKA Building, a national monument in the Merwede-Vierhaven area (M4H), until 8 July 2018. In Brussels, the IABR will partner with Architecture Workroom Brussels for an exhibition at the World Trade Center, open until 30 September 2018.
© Hannah Anthonysz
Arguing that spatial design is crucial leverage, the IABR–2018+2020–THE MISSING LINK raises the question of how we can effectively realize the urgent acceleration and scaling of the transition to a resilient future, initially with a focus on the Delta of the Low Lands.
The 2018 work biennale will concentrate on research, exchange, debate, and brainstorming. The work will continue across 2019, and the results will be presented in 2020.
The press release can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.
Now that the government is withdrawing, practices like those of the IABR are increasingly important for exploration of our urban future
picture: Nina Felius
On 10 July 2016, the seventh International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, IABR–2016–THE NEXT ECONOMY, investigating the relationship between design and tomorrow’s economy, struck its final chord. At the heart of the eleven-week exhibition IABR-2016 was a platform for the exchange of knowledge and ideas, debate, and brainstorming sessions by designers and academics, administrators and policymakers, stakeholders and entrepreneurs, citizens and audiences from the Netherlands and abroad.
Further enhanced by debate and knowledge exchange, the results of the IABR research by design projects in particular generated concrete, valuable input for decision- and policymaking. The IABR mapped the possibilities of an energy transition in Groningen, made plans for the large-scale production of wind power on the North Sea, and formulated proposals to use spatial design to transform Utrecht into a more Healthy City, results that will be further developed by the authorities and organizations concerned after the Biennale.
The IABR will intensify its existing collaboration with the city of Rotterdam: the IABR–Atelier Resilient Rotterdam 2016 – 2020 will continue to work on plans and projects for a more climate-proof and resilient Rotterdam. Results will be presented at the IABR–2018 and IABR-2020.
At IABR–2016 two conferences on how to proceed after signing the Paris Climate Agreement
The seventh edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, IABR–2016–THE NEXT ECONOMY, opened on Saturday 23 April, the day after the UN assembled in New York to sign the Paris Climate Agreement. This immediately highlighted the topicality of the theme of this Biennale. As IABR director George Brugmans underlined at the opening of IABR–2016: the Next Economy starts today!
Driven by the question WHAT’S NEXT? the exhibition IABR–2016–THE NEXT ECONOMY is also a ten-week platform for conferences, debates, lectures, workshops, brainstorming sessions, and meetings that further explore the relationship between spatial design and tomorrow’s economy. The program for the next couple of weeks includes SUSTAINABLE URBAN DELTAS, a conference organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Delta Coalition, as well as the launch of the first Rotterdam RESILIENCE STRATEGY. Both conferences focus on the long-term resilience of cities.
IABR opens doors to seventh edition on 23 April
During the weekend of 23 and 24 April 2016, the IABR will kick off IABR–2016–THE NEXT ECONOMY in former coffee warehouse Fenixloods II in Rotterdam Katendrecht. This seventh edition of the IABR visualizes the city of the future in the next economy and invites everyone to actively participate by joining the extensive WHAT’S NEXT? program, consisting of lectures, conferences, workshops, meetings, brainstorms and debates. The IABR will present the main conclusions of eleven weeks of knowledge exchange to the public with a closing debate and in a publication on Sunday 3 July.
The IABR–2016–THE NEXT ECONOMY exhibition shows a range of possible futures: from radical scenarios for the energy transition to examples of experimental, cooperative area development; from mega projects on the North Sea and in Africa to local initiatives in South America, China, and Rotterdam. Apart from an exhibition, IABR–2016 is also a workspace that encourages ongoing participation.
In its Ateliers, the IABR researches opportunities created by genuinely adopting renewable energy
©IABR, Tungsten Pro
The exhibition IABR–2016–THE NEXT ECONOMY includes concrete visualizations of a viable green Next Economy. Nordic City explores a new future for the city and region of Groningen, and 2050 – An Energetic Odyssey illustrates the role the North Sea can play in the realization
of the two degree target once we focus on collaboration for the large scale exploitation of wind power.
The Rotterdam biennale takes the major challenges of the twenty first century as its starting point for the exploration and visualization of the city of tomorrow. The need to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources in order to realize climate neutral living and working environments is an urgent topic. What are the spatial implications of this transition? What opportunities present themselves if we facilitate energy transition in the foreseeable future? The two degree target set at the Paris climate conference is not viable without bold strategies and new forms of collaboration between large established companies, small newcomers, governments, and citizens.
Picture: Bas Bogaerts
IABR–2016–THE NEXT ECONOMY is a plea for an urban economy that focuses on social challenges; an economy that is driven by meaningful employment, the sustainable use of natural and human capital, and that leads to greater social inclusiveness. The results of the research carried out in five long term IABR–Ateliers, the ones in Rotterdam and Brussels focusing on the productive city and exploring how Western cities can once again become platforms of the new manufacturing industry, are mainstays of the exhibition
In the conviction that only collaboration in and between cities can realize the potential of the urban age, IABR–2016’s program once again highlights rapid urbanization, this time specifically on the African continent. Under the heading Africa; What’s Next? sixteen projects showcase the challenges, opportunities and possibilities of African cities in the Next Economy and demonstrate what we can learn from the mostly informal and small-scale initiatives.
urban design and tomorrow's economy
During the weekend of 23 and 24 April 2016, the IABR will kick off its seventh edition: IABR–2016–THE NEXT ECONOMY. The opening weekend marks the beginning of an exhibition and a continuous program of activities in and around former warehouse Fenixloods II in the Rotterdam district of Katendrecht.
Chief curator Maarten Hajer and an international Curator Team will once again focus on the future of the city, investigating the relationship between urban design and tomorrow’s economy.
Until 10 July 2016, IABR–2016 is a platform for creative coalitions of designers, administrators, businesses, citizens, and other agents of change with fresh ideas and imaginations of the twenty-first century city. The IABR will share the most important conclusions of eleven weeks of debate with the audience in a closing debate on Sunday 3 July.
The IABR has published a list of 96 projects that together will make up the main exhibition of its upcoming edition, URBAN BY NATURE–The list includes projects by renowned designers and design offices such as Piet Oudolf, OMA, BIG, MVRDV, West 8, ZUS, JCFO, .FABRIC, LOLA, Floris Alkemade, H+N+S, Wim Quist and Benthem Crouwel; by organizations such as the World Wild Fund for Nature Netherlands and the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency; companies such as Shell and the Port of Rotterdam Authority; and universities such as Delft University of Technology, MIT, Harvard, and ETH Zurich.
Exhibitions, tours, field trips, sleeping over at the architect’s: from late May to late August, Rotterdam will be breathing architecture, hosting activities associated with the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) and subsequent activities in the city. Visit IABR–2014– from 29 May to 24 August.
Over 40 companies, civil organizations, authorities, research facilities, and cultural institutions are intrinsically contributing to IABR–2014–URBAN BY NATURE–. The IABR (International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam) is using research by design to tackle the task of creating a healthy balance between humanity, the environment, and prosperity. Our world is urbanizing fast, and the dividing line between city and nature is fading just as rapidly.
During the IABR–2014–, the IABR and its partners are investigating the changing relationship between city and nature. They believe that the environmental problems of the world can be solved only if the problems of the city are solved first. As of 29 May 2014, the results of this joint investigation will be on show in a major exhibition held in the Kunsthal Rotterdam – which will be dedicated to a single theme for the first time in its existence.
‘To resolve the world’s ecological problems, we first have to work on the problems facing our cities.’ This observation by landscape architect Dirk Sijmons is the premise of the sixth edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam: IABR–2014–URBAN BY NATURE– and it earned him the curatorship of this edition.
A major exhibition, URBAN BY NATURE– will guide visitors through the contemporary urban landscape to experience the metabolism of the city. For the first time in its history, the now sustainable Kunsthal will be used in its entirety for a single exhibition.
IABR–2014– opens on 28 May 2014 and is open to the public from 29 May 2014.
The festive closure of the exhibition Making City Istanbul, on 12 December in Istanbul, marks the official end of the fifth edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, the 5th IABR.
The exhibitions and other programmes in the Netherlands, Turkey and Brazil attracted 132,600 visitors. Almost 3 million people watched and listened to the TV and radio programs broadcast as part of The City Forever, a collaborative project of the IABR and the Dutch broadcaster VPRO.
IABR has started preparations for the 6th edition, URBAN by NATURE, which opens in May 2014.
Taking up the challenge
By the middle of this century, the number of people living in the world’s cities will have more than doubled. Cities will produce over 90% of the world’s wealth. This development urged the 5th IABR: Making City to pose questions about city-making strategies. How can we address the challenge of making city for such vast numbers? Do we really know how to design and manage cities more effectively? Can the city become a more sustainable environment for continued prosperity, with equal opportunities for billions of urban dwellers? The 5th IABR was a call to all stakeholders – administrators, policymakers, politicians, designers and cities – to start new alliances and take constructive, sustainable action.
IABR took up its own challenge, entering into temporary partnerships with local parties and municipalities to develop and implement projects in Rotterdam Central District, an urban park and an eco-corridor in Istanbul, and a strategic action plan for the north eastern area of São Paulo. It also embarked on seven major spatial projects in the Netherlands in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.
Dirk Sijmons has been appointed curator of the next edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam.
The 6th IABR has the working title URBAN by NATURE and opens in May 2014. It focuses on the ‘natural’ character of the city as human biotope. By examining the metabolism of the urban organism, the 6th IABR explores the relationship between city and nature whilst also reflecting on city as nature. The city as nature, as a metabolism, not only comprises the built environment, but the broader context: the landscape that is the material condition for our urban society.