IABR 2018+2020 The Missing Link launches curator statement, research agenda and call for practices

International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 
Curator statement, research agenda and call for practices

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IABR–2018+2020–The Missing Link
Rotterdam, Brussels, 2018–2020

Adapting our way of life and consumption and production patterns to the finite capacity of our planet requires a fundamental socioeconomic transition that cannot “take place” if we do not first and quite literally “make place” for it. There can be no transition to renewable energy, no resilient ecosystem and no caring and solidary living environment without the actual transformation of our urban landscapes.

The necessary fundamental changes require the making of major political and social choices. But they come with a design challenge: to facilitate behavioral change we have to be able to couple social, spatial, and ecological problems at the scale levels of the building, the neighborhood, the city, and the entire planet. Creating space means sharing space!

The Paris Climate Agreement and The Missing Link
The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) applies the biennale editions of 2018 and 2020 entirely to the challenge brought to the table of the world community in 2015 by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN and the Paris Climate Agreement (COP21).

The board of the IABR therefore decided in the spring of 2017 to appoint a single curator team for two consecutive biennales, with the objective of mobilizing global thinking and the power to activate and design for an in-depth research by design process that focuses on spatial transformations that facilitate the realization of the SDGs. Because the urgency and the objectives are clear and the question is no longer whether we need to, but how we are going to adjust. Nobody really knows, and exactly this is The Missing Link. How can we get from agendas, knowledge, and plans to truly effective spatial transformation? What is the new metanarrative that can bring us, as a society—that is: truly together—to the future? How can we organize that transition as a spatial, but at the same time social project that both takes our resistance to change into account and mobilizes our longing for it? How do we realize change fast enough, in enough places at a time, both affordably and socially inclusively? And what does the new design practice we need to meet that objective look like?

One program, two biennales
As always, the IABR adapts its methods to its goals and that is why we are organizing the next two editions as a single continuous cycle: two biennales, one program. During the 2018 “work biennale,” to begin with, we will translate existing knowledge, design power, and initiatives into new hypotheses, approaches, and partnerships for spatial transformation. The period between the 2018 and 2020 editions is bridged by research by design on matters ranging from going from agenda setting to the evidence-based, from research to result, from plan to implementation. The focus gradually shifts to (ways to achieve) concrete implementation: at specific locations, in policy, and in funding models, as well as in urban development and design practices. In 2020, finally, the results of this cumulative work process will be shared with the world: a prospect for action and the practice related to it.

Call for practices 
The three curators of IABR–2018+2020–The Missing Link, Floris Alkemade, Leo van Broeck and Joachim Declerck, and the president of the IABR foundation, George Brugmans, invite everyone to read the curator statement, the research agenda and particularly the call for practices, all to be found on the website of the IABR.

The IABR–2018+2020 call for practices focuses on practices that actually close the gap between good plans and ambitious goals on the one hand, and their concrete implementation on the other. Building bridges, everywhere and at all levels, is a creative process that requires complementary capabilities, insights, and expertise. That is why the curators invite both designers and other social actors, every party that wants to commit and can contribute to a profound socio-spatial transformation to a resilient future: truly innovative practices that are active in architecture, urban and neighborhood development, and spatial and environmental planning as well as in policy development, knowledge sharing and development, climate change, the energy transition, water management, food production, creative activity and industry, impact investment, and social enterprise.

The IABR invites those who want to answer its call and actually join the curators in materializing The Missing Link to closely read the documents including all selection criteria and guidelines and subsequently complete the application form available on the IABR website.

The delta and the world: a single research agenda for a collective challenge
IABR–2018+2020 chooses the North-Western European Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta as its operating base. By appointing a Belgian-Dutch curator team and through intensive collaboration with public and cultural actors from the Netherlands, Flanders, and Brussels, the partners transform this Euro delta into the primary arena of international knowledge sharing and cultural exchange. This delta features one of the oldest polycentric urbanization patterns in the world that developed in a single coherent physical and hydrological ecosystem and has several ports that together link it to the world and the European hinterland. Despite significant cultural and administrative differences, the administrative parts of this delta have shared capital and also share challenges in the area of ​​fundamental transitions. The Euro delta presents itself as a representative and productive laboratory for the world, and vice versa.

In doing so, the IABR commits itself to take full advantage of the productivity of the community of practice it will establish in the coming three years, and the approach it is developing in collaboration with that community, also after 2020, striving for one shared movement and platform, for one biennale in the Netherlands and Belgium.

IABR–2018: May 31–July 8, 2018

Contact: Marieke Francke, mfrancke@iabr.nl

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