About 5th IABR

The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) was founded in 2001 in the conviction that architecture and urbanism are of public importance. The most important task facing architecture is to contribute to the housing and living standards of billions of people. It is on that basis that the IABR is working on the city of tomorrow, also in the 5th edition: Making City.


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 world is urbanizing at a rapid pace. By about 2050 more than seven of the nine billion people on earth will live in cities. The major socio-economic and ecological issues of this century are therefore urban problems. At the same time, ninety percent of our wealth is generated in cities. The 5th IABR: Making City is convinced that the city is our future. But are there new and better instruments and methods at our disposal for ‘making city’?

Just as in earlier Biennales, the 5th IABR: Making City is organizing its own research programme. With projects of its own as well as seven collaborative projects with the Dutch government and a selection of ‘best practices’ from around the world, the IABR is exploring ways of ‘making city’ that will last for a long time. From 20 April 2012, 35 projects from over 25 cities around the world will be presented in Rotterdam. From places such as New York, Paris, São Paulo, Delhi, as well as Rotterdam, The Hague, Groningen and Almere, these projects show that standard solutions are no longer sufficient. In the future, city development will involve much more interplay between different disciplines. Continually changing alliances will have to balance their social agenda and economic ambitions. Only then will cities be the solution for the major socio-economic and ecological challenges that now face us. That is why Making City will examine the relation between planning, design and politics.

The 5th IABR: Making City is open to the public from 20 April 2012 and features seven exhibitions at different venues, a conference, debates and lectures, publications, and television and radio programmes made with the VPRO broadcasting corporation.