[artinfo] Curator statement Architecture Biennale Rotterdam

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Wed Oct 25 09:11:21 CEST 2017

International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam

Curator statement, research agenda and call for practices


IABR-2018+2020-The Missing Link

Rotterdam, Brussels, 2018-2020

Adapting our way of life and consumption and 
production patterns to the finite capacity of our 
planet requires a fundamental socioeconomic 
transition that cannot "take place" if we do not 
first and quite literally "make place" for it. 
There can be no transition to renewable energy, 
no resilient ecosystem and no caring and solidary 
living environment without the actual 
transformation of our urban landscapes.

The necessary fundamental changes require the 
making of major political and social choices. But 
they come with a design challenge: to facilitate 
behavioral change we have to be able to couple 
social, spatial, and ecological problems at the 
scale levels of the building, the neighborhood, 
the city, and the entire planet. Creating space 
means sharing space!

The Paris Climate Agreement and The Missing Link
The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 
(IABR) applies the biennale editions of 2018 and 
2020 entirely to the challenge brought to the 
table of the world community in 2015 by the 
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN 
and the Paris Climate Agreement (COP21).

The board of the IABR therefore decided in the 
spring of 2017 to appoint a single curator team 
for two consecutive biennales, with the objective 
of mobilizing global thinking and the power to 
activate and design for an in-depth research by 
design process that focuses on spatial 
transformations that facilitate the realization 
of the SDGs. Because the urgency and the 
objectives are clear and the question is no 
longer whether we need to, but how we are going 
to adjust. Nobody really knows, and exactly this 
is The Missing Link. How can we get from agendas, 
knowledge, and plans to truly effective spatial 
transformation? What is the new metanarrative 
that can bring us, as a society-that is: truly 
together-to the future? How can we organize that 
transition as a spatial, but at the same time 
social project that both takes our resistance to 
change into account and mobilizes our longing for 
it? How do we realize change fast enough, in 
enough places at a time, both affordably and 
socially inclusively? And what does the new 
design practice we need to meet that objective 
look like?

One program, two biennales
As always, the IABR adapts its methods to its 
goals and that is why we are organizing the next 
two editions as a single continuous cycle: two 
biennales, one program. During the 2018 "work 
biennale," to begin with, we will translate 
existing knowledge, design power, and initiatives 
into new hypotheses, approaches, and partnerships 
for spatial transformation. The period between 
the 2018 and 2020 editions is bridged by research 
by design on matters ranging from going from 
agenda setting to the evidence-based, from 
research to result, from plan to implementation. 
The focus gradually shifts to (ways to achieve) 
concrete implementation: at specific locations, 
in policy, and in funding models, as well as in 
urban development and design practices. In 2020, 
finally, the results of this cumulative work 
process will be shared with the world: a prospect 
for action and the practice related to it.

Call for practices
The three curators of IABR-2018+2020-The Missing 
Link, Floris Alkemade, Leo van Broeck and Joachim 
Declerck, and the president of the IABR 
foundation, George Brugmans, invite everyone to 
read the curator statement, the research agenda 
and particularly the call for practices, all to 
be found on <http://iabr.nl/en>the website of the 

The IABR-2018+2020 call for practices focuses on 
practices that actually close the gap between 
good plans and ambitious goals on the one hand, 
and their concrete implementation on the other. 
Building bridges, everywhere and at all levels, 
is a creative process that requires complementary 
capabilities, insights, and expertise. That is 
why the curators invite both designers and other 
social actors, every party that wants to commit 
and can contribute to a profound socio-spatial 
transformation to a resilient future: truly 
innovative practices that are active in 
architecture, urban and neighborhood development, 
and spatial and environmental planning as well as 
in policy development, knowledge sharing and 
development, climate change, the energy 
transition, water management, food production, 
creative activity and industry, impact 
investment, and social enterprise.

The IABR invites those who want to answer its 
call and actually join the curators in 
materializing The Missing Link to closely read 
the documents including all selection criteria 
and guidelines and subsequently complete the 
application form available on 
<http://iabr.nl/en>the IABR website.

The delta and the world: a single research agenda for a collective challenge
IABR-2018+2020 chooses the North-Western European 
Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta as its operating base. 
By appointing a Belgian-Dutch curator team and 
through intensive collaboration with public and 
cultural actors from the Netherlands, Flanders, 
and Brussels, the partners transform this Euro 
delta into the primary arena of international 
knowledge sharing and cultural exchange. This 
delta features one of the oldest polycentric 
urbanization patterns in the world that developed 
in a single coherent physical and hydrological 
ecosystem and has several ports that together 
link it to the world and the European hinterland. 
Despite significant cultural and administrative 
differences, the administrative parts of this 
delta have shared capital and also share 
challenges in the area of ÐÐfundamental 
transitions. The Euro delta presents itself as a 
representative and productive laboratory for the 
world, and vice versa.

In doing so, the IABR commits itself to take full 
advantage of the productivity of the community of 
practice it will establish in the coming three 
years, and the approach it is developing in 
collaboration with that community, also after 
2020, striving for one shared movement and 
platform, for one biennale in the Netherlands and 

IABR-2018: May 24-July 8, 2018

Contact: Marieke Francke, <mailto:mfrancke at iabr.nl>mfrancke at iabr.nl

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