Nature of Hope, the 11th edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam. Image: Nina van Tuikwerd (ARK).
Under the title Nature of Hope, the 11th edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam examines nature, culture and hope from the perspective of architectural thought and action, as a driving force for social change. What does it take to face uncertainty about the future in a time of profound and multiple transformations – in other words, what are the building blocks we need to remain hopeful?
The IABR 2024 will take place from 29 June to 13 October 2024 and will focus on a combination of hope and nature. This choice stems from the recognition that everything begins with the Earth and that our exploitation – or rather, depletion – of the Earth, each other, and the living world is leading to multiple ecological and social crises. As humans, we can no longer place ourselves above or at a distance from nature and nor do we wish to. How can we put the knowledge and practices of spatial design at the service of the planet and all the creatures that live on it?
Conditions for Hope
In 2024, the IABR will focus on the design of hope – not as a naive position or a binary choice between optimism and pessimism, but as an active practice. After all, change will only land in fertile soil if it comes with the lure and hope of a new dawn. In the face of urgent systemic change, the design disciplines have an opportunity to redefine themselves. How can we consistently engage in a conscious confrontation with the realities of our field of work and our relationships, and find space in them for potential improvement and systemic change?
By focusing on the conditions for hope, the IABR 2024 will contribute to rebuilding social and knowledge infrastructures so that problematic ways of working can be abandoned and alternative ways of working strengthened. Architectural thinking as a flywheel for change!
Beyond the Makeability of the Landscape
The (Western) paradigm of ‘makeability’– social engineering – and the economization and rationalization of the political and physical landscape in the form of polderen are deeply rooted in Dutch culture and inextricably linked to exploitation, dependency, and inequality. But both our technocratic and our democratic foundations are under pressure. The dominant attitude towards nature and landscape – talking and thinking about and designing in spite of nature – has led to our current situation: overlapping crises of ecology, climate, and social relations.
It is high time for a new (design) attitude: to think and act from nature; to act integrally and collectively; to interweave the multiplicity of (cultural) perspectives, lived experiences, and forms of knowledge – including those of other life forms – and to take the promise of the possible future as a starting point.
Towards a Regenerative and Hopeful Architectural Practice
Spatial designers have a key role to play in imagining and establishing the conditions for urgent change. Many signs of this coming cultural shift are already visible. More and more natural entities, such as rivers, are gaining rights (notably in the Global South). Insurers and financial markets are making their voices heard in the climate crisis debate, taking a stand on the future they want. Architects, urban designers, landscape designers, and spatial policymakers are also increasingly focusing on integrated design solutions: from water and soil the drivers of spatial change, as described in new national policies, to working circularly and carbon positively, (re)using local materials and knowledge building.
In the run-up to the exhibition, the IABR 2024 will support these developments by focusing on exploring and transforming architectural culture and strengthening the conditions for regenerative architectural practices.In this context, the imagination is not a utopian blueprint, but a pragmatic search for what previously seemed impossible.
The IABR 2024: Nature of Hope Curator Team consists of architect and researcher Janna Bystrykh, architect-researcher and philosopher Catherine Koekoek, researcher and writer Hani Salih, spatial designer and researcher Alina Paias, and designer and writer Noortje Weenink. The curator team, whose members come from different backgrounds but share a common basis in spatial design, manifests the change that is already underway.
Location: Nieuwe Instituut, Museumpark Rotterdam
The main venue of the IABR 2024 will be the Nieuwe Instituut (NI) in Rotterdam, the national museum for architecture, design, and digital culture. The IABR thus returns to the place where it took its first cultural steps 20 years ago. The IABR and the Nieuwe Instituut share a common agenda and both want the design disciplines to play a key role in interpreting and furthering the development of pressing social challenges.
About the IABR
As a knowledge and cultural institution, the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) promotes and draws attention to the value of research by design. The disciplines of Architecture, Landscape Design, and Urban Design have an essential, connecting and imaginative part to play in the profound social transformations the world is facing as a result of climate change. The visualization of alternatives is crucial to designing a shared future.
IABR is generously supported by the City of Rotterdam and the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
Nature of Hope, the 11th edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam. Image: Nina van Tuikwerd (ARK). The image is inspired by the IPCC report on biodiversity and climate change, p. 130.