IBA, an influential urban development instrument

IBA – is the acronym for the International Building Exhibition in Germany. They are one of the most influential urban development instruments in Germany, where they can look back on a long history. The first IBAs held at the beginning of the 20th century often involved a set, limited area where innovative architecture was presented and tested. Down through the years, the IBAs evolved: Cities and regions then select the IBA as a planning tool when seeking pioneering solutions for complex urban design challenges.

IBA researches the city of tomorrow

For this reason, today IBAs are much more than just architecture exhibitions. First, they have emerged as great tools for visionary urban planning. At an IBA over a project period of up to ten years live research is conducted on what the city of tomorrow could look like: How will we live and work, learn and move in cities in 20 years’ time? What will our buildings look like, what sort of open space will there be? And how will our cities respond to social change?

Research mission for Heidelberg: Knowledge | Based | Urbanism

These are the questions we at IBA Heidelberg are likewise asking. Under the aegis of our motto of Knowledge | Based | Urbanism, from 2012 to 2022 we are active throughout the city. Over a period of ten years we are helping to initiate, evaluate and then realize processes and construction projects relating to the topic of the “knowledge society”. Our projects – and they include schools and museums, student housing and research institutes, childcare centers and cultural facilities, not to mention parks and open spaces – will soon shape the appearance of Heidelberg. And the IBA’s invisible results will be just as important as the actual built results: We want to encourage a dialog in Heidelberg on the urban spaces of tomorrow. The insights gained from the IBA will hopefully be incorporated into the everyday work of local politicians and the administration, civil society and businesses, triggering changes that persist well after the IBA has come to an end. For the first time in the history of the building exhibitions, the sequence of an IBA will also be reflected by an ongoing independent research. In this way we hope to establish a feedback-loop within our workflow to make the following projects even better.
In 2018, the advances the IBA process has made will be documented in the form of an interim presentation. In 2022 we will then take stock: In the final exhibition we will show the public all the individual projects.

Heidelberg – a new type of IBA

IBA Heidelberg is a new type of IBA: While past IBAs often restricted themselves to deficit-driven agendas as urban renewal and addressed already acute problems, the themes taken for Heidelberg are conceived as pro-active measures. Moreover, it is the first IBA to be financed by the municipality so far. In other words, unlike our predecessors we cannot rely on government subsidies for construction investments. All the more important therefore is our collaboration with a wide variety of partners in the region and outstanding experts from all over the world. Together we seek to develop ideas and possible solutions for the knowledge city of tomorrow and to identify financing for these projects. Alongside the projects, the workflow and the idea of the IBA as a platform for communication will be key factors determining the success of the endeavor.