Memorandum on the Future of International Building Exhibitions

The IBA meets IBA Network has agreed on a Memorandum on the future of International Building Exhibitions. In 2009, the common features that underlie all IBA processes and unite them at high standard were set out in ten recommendations for the implementation of an IBA. Since the IBA have no fixed rules or regulations, the importance of building culture and urban development in the regional, national and international context must be reviewed time and again. In 2017, the IBA Expert Council revised the memorandum and added guidelines on important topics such as organisation, financing and projects.

The full version of the IBA Memorandum and the accompanying guidelines can be downloaded here (German version only).

1 Every IBA focuses on pressing challenges in architecture, urban and regional planning that arise from local and regional problems. IBA are characterised by concentrating future questions of social change on aspects that trigger regional developments and can be influenced by the design of spaces in urban and rural contexts.

2 IBA are more than just architecture exhibitions. They propose social blueprints for future ways of living and provide answers to social problems, not just through the design of buildings, but also through new ways of appropriating urban and rural spaces. It is through the experience of memorable places that the messages of an IBA are made manifest.

3 IBA arise from specific challenges facing urban society: While the central themes of an IBA necessarily are based on occasion and location, their relevance extends far beyond the local context. Every IBA originates from locally or regionally focused initiatives and events that served as stimuli for further programmes, which the IBA in turn refines and formulates as courses of action. Preparatory formal and informal discussions among experts and with the public serve as important tools to help identify and define the topics.

4 IBA strive to develop model solutions for current or future problems in building culture, economy, ecology and society. By demonstrating the relevance of their topics, challenges and concepts at an international scale, they influence the ongoing debate on the future of our cities and regions in the context of wider social developments.

5 All IBA are first and foremost known for their buildings and projects. However, IBA draw attention not only to the buildings, but also to the conditions in which they were created and the quality of the processes that contributed to them. Through the development of instruments and formats, every IBA aims to contribute to a new culture of planning and building that manifests itself in a spirit of cooperation and in the interplay of the quality of the process and its result.

6 IBA must be created in an international dimension from the outset. A building exhibition is made international by the international relevance of its central topics and the resulting model projects, by the involvement of external experts and outstanding contributions from abroad, as well as through international public relations and networking.

7 The concentration of intellectual, artistic and financial resources over a limited period of time makes IBA a unique temporary microcosm. They are experimental research and development laboratories in which intense collaboration between experts and those affected as well as with their experiences and successes can encourage projects elsewhere, have a lasting impact on local planning practices and stimulate personal involvement.

8 IBA require the courage to take risks. They are experiments with open outcomes and, at times, generate new ideas through the means of provocation which may cause contradiction. Contentious issues and productive controversies are important aspects of planning culture. All stakeholders – especially administration and politics as well as the public – must be made aware of this from the outset to enable initiatives to step outside the realms of standard practice and to generate widespread interest in their projects.

9 Every IBA needs sufficient autonomy and appropriate organisational forms to bring about exemplary and generalisable solutions that have the potential to be compelling models. In place of established processes and proven courses of action, IBA need imaginative programmes, designs and organisational approaches coupled with a degree of improvisation and the agility to respond quickly to unforeseen events.

10 IBA need to share their themes, ideas, projects and images of their built results. They are a forum and a stage for their participants to present their contributions and commitment to a national and international audience. Modern communication and presentation strategies are essential for their success. Each IBA must use and develop the latest, most effective communication forms, formats and channels.