As early as the 14th century, since 18 October 1386, Heidelberg’s urban development has been marked by the parallelism of political-territorial processes and science-based expansion. The city and university experienced a period of prosperity in the 16th century, when Heidelberg developed into the center of European Calvinism. From the bourgeois palaces in the old town to the founding of institutes in many districts, urban development and scientific development have always influenced each other. The outstanding importance of the city in the political territorial conflicts and the increasing importance of the university were both a blessing and a curse for the city’s development. Due to its political importance and its strategic military position, Heidelberg suffered repeated sieges and destruction as well as the consequences of flight and expulsion.

The international interest in Heidelberg can still be explained today by the structure of effects of urban and scientific development. The landscape and town are uniquely intertwined with the Neckar valley at the transition from the Odenwald to the Rhine plain. The baroque town plan, which was created on a medieval town plan, also contributes to Heidelberg’s special character and its popularity.


With its motto »Wissen | schafft | Stadt« (knowledge-based urbanism), the IBA Heidelberg ties in with this potential. Based on the thesis that European cities will change as dynamically in the knowledge-based society of the 21st century as they did in different phases of industrialization, the IBA is looking for urban design and architectural projects that are exemplary for the knowledge-based society. Attention is also paid to the interfaces between excellence and everyday life as well as to the cooperation and coexistence of research facilities and educational institutions.

A knowledge-based society is based on fundamental pillars such as schooling, cultural education and lifelong learning, as well as on diverse scientific institutions of teaching, research and development with an international field of activity. This landscape of knowledge can be found in all parts of the town in different spatial constellations. In everyday life, science and education represent a considerable proportion of value creation in Heidelberg and the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region. The IBA therefore operates on a decentralized basis and addresses its concerns to various partners from science, business and civil society.