The Dutch Chief Government Architect Floris Alkemade, the Flemish Government Architect Leo Van Broeck and the Belgian architect Joachim Declerck are the three curators of the eight edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR), in 2018.

Curator and Team IABR–2018

from left to right: Tania Hertveld, Marieke Francke, Leo Van Broeck, Gijs Frieling, Catherine Robberechts, Julie Mabilde, Joachim Declerck, Simone Huijbregts, George Brugmans, Hanne Mangelschots, Bas Vereecken, Bram Vandemoortel, Floris Alkemade, Myrte Langevoord

picture: Fred Ernst

Architecture, climate change, and society
The diptych IABR–2018+2020–THE MISSING LINK 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, together with the IABR, 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 this 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 provides, foremost, a workspace and IABR–2020 a platform for a future agenda. The diptych is 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.’

Culture as a catalyst for change
Under the presidency of George Brugmans, the IABR has become both a knowledge institute and a cultural platform that employs imagination and research by design to effect real world change.
Its methodology makes it possible to bring together many and diverse local and regional initiatives and challenges, to share existing insights, to develop new knowledge, and to test it in practice. (read more about IABR here)
More than ever before, and together with many partners, the curators of IABR–2018+2020, will be offered 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.
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.