International Building Exhibitions (IBA) have been held for over a hundred years. They experiment in the fields of archi- tecture and urban development, and set impulses that thrive beyond their time. Each IBA examines the specific local, his- torical and socio-political conditions of its time and finds new concepts and projects in its own way. Over the decades, IBAs can be divided into four categories.

1901–1957 ▸ The building exhibition as an international showcase for architecture
These IBAs were created in times of historical upheaval and, with strong political will and large budgets, were able to open up new architectural and creative territory.

1979–1999 ▸ International Building Exhibitions as a rehabilitation instrument in urban development
For the first time, the focus is on the building stock, specifically urban districts in need of redevelopment and brown field development following de-industrialization.

2000–2013 ▸ International Building Exhibitions as influential players in the culture of planning (»Baukultur«)
IBAs focus on the interface between urban and regional devel- opment policies; they influence strategic planning and project development through prototypes.

2010–2023 ▸ International Building Exhibitions on new scale and transnational cooperation
Based on local characteristics, subjects such as »planning from the bottom up« are developed; they create international appeal through subsequent programs and projects.


1901 ▸ Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt: A document of German art

In 1899, on the initiative of Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig, the artists’ colony Darmstadt was established, whose overall planning was entrusted to the young architect Joseph Maria Olbrich. A comprehensive, holistic concept characterizes this building exhibition. The ground plan of the quarter, the studio and residential buildings, the exhibition buildings, the interior fittings — from the door handle to town planning, the designs and plans were combined into a Gesamtkunstwerk. In a joint effort, architects, painters, sculptors and representatives of the applied arts gave Mathildenhöhe a new form.

1927 ▸ Weissenhofsiedlung Stuttgart: Testimony to a new building style

Entitled »Die Wohnung« (dwelling), this building exhibition for the first time presented the new forms of living demanded by the association Deutscher Werkbund, both nationally and interna- tionally. Seventeen architects participated, including Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Hans Scharoun. Under the artistic direction of Mies van der Rohe, they created a housing program for modern »city dweller«, implemented in 21 case study houses. The functional, simple architecture of the Weissenhof housing estate stood for the architecture of modernity.

1957 ▸ Interbau Berlin: Competition between systems

In response to the socialist, monumental, classicist Stalinallee of East Berlin, Interbau presented the capitalist model of the »city of tomorrow« in 1957, in keeping with Western Modernism. Based on the urban planning competition won by architects Gerhard Jobst, Willy Kreuer and Wilhelm Schließer, represen- tatives of an international avant-garde designed buildings that had a strong connection to the park landscape designed by Walter Rossow. The Hansaviertel, originally intended as a prototype for post-war modern redevelopment, is to this day regarded as an internationally recognized reference project for a post-war modern urban landscape that is extremely pop- ular with its inhabitants.

1979–1984/87 ▸ IBA Berlin: The city center as a place to live

Because urban renewal practice in German cities was increasingly denounced, the »Critical Reconstruction of the European City« was to be researched in demonstration areas in West Berlin. Two parallel approaches were pursued. In the context of the »IBA-Neubau« (IBA for new buildings), residential buildings were created primarily by architects from abroad who were to be assigned to postmodernism or deconstructivism: Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk, Rem Koolhaas and Rob Krier. In contrast, »IBA-Altbau« (IBA for existing buildings), socio-politically more ambitious, was dedicated to »saving the broken city« through careful modernization and transformation of existing buildings.

1989–1999 ▸ IBA Emscher Park: The future for an industrial region

In a former industrial region, 117 landscape planning and urban development projects for environmental, economic and cultural conversion were realized across an area of more than 800 square kilometers. For the first time, landscape design and architecture moved into the foreground of planning schemes in order to build a regional identity and promote a fundamental change in dealing with »disused space«. Industrial ensembles, stigmatized as a sign of industrial decline, became identity-generating buildings — today they are hall- marks of the cityscape in the Ruhr area. Read more: www.iba.nrw.de

2000–2010 ▸ IBA Fürst-Pückler-Land: Workshop for new landscapes

In the early 1990s, Lower Lusatia was marked by desolate landscapes and abandoned industrial buildings. The IBA gave this enormous structural change new economic, environmental and design impulses, the aim being to give fallow landscape areas a new identity. It advocated the preservation and conversion of industrial monuments, promoted urban redevelopment projects and the tourist development of the devastated areas of lignite mining. Read more: www.iba-see2010.de

2002–2010 ▸ IBA Stadtumbau: Less is the future

The sharp population decline in eastern Germany hit small and medium-sized towns in particular, which needed new concepts for urban development in view of the shrinking population. In Saxony-Anhalt, new tools for urban dedevelopment were tested in 19 cities. Expertise was to be developed for practical use at state, municipal and civil society levels. The IBA addressed the development opportunities of cities without growth. Its instruments included public, activating interventions for citizen participation and advice to participating cities. Read more: www.iba-stadtumbau.de

2006–2013 ▸ IBA Hamburg: Jump across the Elbe river

On Hamburg’s Elbe islands the problems and potential of today’s metropolises were concentrated: an international urban society and a disrupted urban structure. The IBA promoted the development of the districts of Wilhelmsburg, Veddel and Harburg’s inland port through around 70 cultural, social and environmental projects. In the process, it focused on good educational and cultural opportunities, the development of border and transition areas into livable quarters and climate-friendly growth. Read more: www.iba-hamburg.de

2010–2020 ▸ IBA Basel: Growing together across borders

The topic is the cross-border development of a highly fragmented conurbation in the border triangle of Germany, France and Switzerland. The aim is to promote the feeling of belonging and improve the living conditions of the population in the common region, improve the cross-border cooperation culture, and strengthen the international impact of the IBA project area. For this purpose, IBA Basel brings private and public actors together and creates binding project partnerships across national, cantonal and municipal borders. Read more: www.iba-basel.net

2012–2022 ▸ IBA Heidelberg: Wissen | schafft | Stadt

In the knowledge-based society of the 21st century, our cities will change as dynamically as in the industrial society of the 19th and 20th century. IBA Heidelberg sees it as its most important task to find architectural and urban planning solutions for this. In the thematic focus areas of science, knowledge spaces, networks, urban metabolism and co-production, it shows refer- ence projects that in many respects point far into the future. As an intermediary actor, it stimulates implementation processes, partly through international knowledge transfer.

2012–2023 ▸ IBA Thuringia: URBAN COUNTRYSIDE

Problems in a state with an extremely small-scale settlement structure are to be (better) solved through equal and innovative urban-rural relations. The population is shrinking, climate change must be addressed, the energy transition must be tackled, and socio-cultural changes throughout the Free State of Thuringia must be considered. The IBA is meeting this challenge with new ideas and exemplary projects. Read more: www.iba-thueringen.de

2013–2020 ▸ IBA Parkstad: Parkstad in motion

The former mining region Parkstad Limburg in the Netherlands is struggling with unemployment and migration. The IBA is driving urban redevelopment forward, opening up new economic fields, pushing ahead with the energy transition and giving a new impetus to the economy, regional planning and society. By involving citizens at an early stage, the IBA also aims to bring about a change in values and awareness among the population. Read more: www.iba-parkstad.nl/en

2016–2022 ▸ IBA Vienna: New social housing

Vienna is considered one of the leading cities as regards social housing but has been confronted with above-average population growth for many years. The IBA Vienna is therefore not only focusing on new construction, but also on the further development of the city and, very fundamentally, on co-habitation in Vienna. New social quarters, new social qualities and new social responsibility form the framework for its activities. Read more: www.iba-wien.at

2017–2027 ▸ IBA StadtRegion Stuttgart: Change in growth

Hundred years after European avant-garde architects presented their then radical »living plan for modern city dwellers« in the Weissenhof housing estate, the IBA 2027 is to find answers to the question: How do we live and work in the digital and global age? It is geared to the guiding themes: Building culture of a new modernity, integrated neighborhoods, new technologies for a city worth living in, including its heterogeneous region. Read more: www.iba2027.de