How do we make city? That is the issue at the heart of the 5th IABR: Making City. Ongoing urbanization is creating gigantic political, social, economic and ecological challenges. These challenges manifest themselves in our cities which is also where we will have to find solutions. No cities, no future. And our cities can only take us to a better future if we do a better job of designing, planning and governing them. 

The 5th IABR: Making City is therefore issuing a call to all involved – administrators, policymakers, politicians, entrepreneurs, designers and citizens: If making city is what we have to do, we must really go about it differently, by building strong alliances, by formulating an urban agenda, and by putting design first.

The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam

The international Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) was founded in 2001, in the conviction that architecture is a public concern. It is therefore that the IABR focuses on the future of the city, where 80% of mankind will be producing 90% of its wealth.

Our cities will have to be vigorous, sustainable and livable for everyone. They will have to find a right balance between people, planet and profit.

How to get to the future is a common challenge, cities will need to exchange ideas, knowledge, expertise and best practices. That is why the IABR connects Rotterdam with the world, and the world with Rotterdam. The IABR generates ideas and proposals, and produces exhibitions, conferences, films, books, lectures and debates. It commissions design-based research and the IABR’s Project Ateliers are actively involved in “making city”: in Rotterdam but also in and with cities such as Istanbul and São Paulo.

The last three IABR editions, Power, Open City and Making City, have explored ongoing rapid urbanization and its consequences, while staking out a position for architecture and making a case for what design may effectuate. The next two editions take it one step further. The need to design our future habitat in terms of a sustainable balance between demographic, ecological and economic concerns, between people, planet and profit, will give direction to the program of the 6th and 7th IABR. While the 6th edition will focus on the ecology-side of the triangle, the 7th will concentrate on the economy.

The 6th IABR: URBANbyNATURE will study the city through the lens of landscape architecture. When we scrutinize the relationship between city and nature, or even, when we explore city as nature, as a metabolism, the analysis may produce instruments that can be applied to guide the design, planning and governance of our future cities. Necessary because, in the words of the Curator of the 6th IABR, Dirk Sijmons, “…we can only solve our ecological problems when we solve our urban problems.”