Written by Darrel Ronald

4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam – Exploring Urban Futures

4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam – Exploring Urban by Darrel Ronald


Refuge Urbanism; © Unknown

The website for this year’s 4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2009 is fully online and operational. Rotterdam architect Kees Christiaanse will curate the program, and has developed the theme: Exploring Urban Futures. He will be working in association with a team in Zurich at the ETH, where he also teaches urban design. In Rotterdam, Christiaanse runs his own office, KCAP, which is recognized for work in both architecture and urban design. Being the 4th biennale, expectations are high following what many perceived as a decline in the scale and quality of the last, 3rd Biennale entitled “Power”.


Squat in the Open City – Squat City; © Unknown

Many events are planned between now and throughout the exhibition, one of which just passed in Zurich at the ETH, The Open City symposium. The AIR Foundation will also be holding a series of Urban Meetings. Also to be exhibited are the results from the international competition, Gotong Royong City – Envisioning the Future of Jakarta, where the registration period is unfortunately already closed. There are lots of events to keep track of, and we will follow-up in the coming months, as well as integrate the events into our Dysturb.Net Calendar.


Gotong Royong City; © Erik Prasetya 2009

The Mission Statement from the curatorial team:

IABR Exploring Urban Futures
The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) is an international urban research biennale founded in 2001 on the conviction that architecture is a public concern. It is an international festival of exhibitions, conferences, lectures and other activities devoted to themes in the field of architecture and urbanism.

Linking the contemporary Dutch agenda to the international context, the IABR invites the design disciplines to examine an urgent social issue in relation to a particular urban condition.

The IABR serves as a platform, a catalyst and a mediator between local and global cultures, thus advocating an international exchange of ideas and encouraging public discussion among designers, researchers, academics, artists, politicians, public authorities, real estate developers and other investors, social organizations and the public at large, at home and abroad.

Why Cities Matter
Our futures will unfold predominantly in cities. Urban dwellers now comprise more than half the world’s population. What we call the countryside will soon be home to less than a third of humanity. Urban regions are the hubs of the global economy and the producers of culture and welfare, yet they are also the source of immeasurable environmental damage. They are the locus of consumers and slum dwellers alike, of globally operating media and financial networks, of crime and tourism. As they absorb the growth of the world’s population, cities struggle to provide adequate and sustainable living conditions for their inhabitants. The most significant challenge for architecture therefore lies in addressing urban problems.

The curator’s biography – Kees Christiaanse:

Kees Christiaanse (1953) is internationally recognized among today’s foremost researchers and practitioners in the fields of urban design and architecture. He studied architecture and urban design at Delft University of Technology. From 1980-1989 he was a partner at OMA in Rotterdam and consequently founded KCAP Architects & Planners with offices in Rotterdam and Zürich.
From 1996-2003 he was Professor of Architecture & Urban Design at the Technical University Berlin; since 2003 he has been Head of the Institute of Urban Design at the Network City-Landscape of the ETH in Zürich. In addition he is a visiting Professor in the Cities Program of the London School of Economics.

Having successfully combined practical intervention and scientific research in diverse urban conditions, Christiaanse is highly qualified to curate the next Biennale, and to structure and intensify its network with research institutions. He is actively involved in concrete urban projects such as the revitalization of port-areas in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Hamburg. In addition, for the Olympic Legacy Masterplan in London, he is designing an “urban breeding grounds” with delicate systems of public spaces on which interactive cultures of mixed use can unfold, catalyzing the redevelopment of the surrounding city. Furthermore, Christiaanse is actively researching, lecturing, and publishing on the theme of the Open City, and has cultivated an impressive international network of colleagues working on similar conditions.

The biennale runs from the 24th September 2009 to the 10th January 2010. It takes place throughout Rotterdam, most notably at the NAi, but with smaller exhibitions at the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design and a tie-in exhibit in Amsterdam. The Berlage Institute will also be planning a Master Class linked to this year’s theme.

Further Information Link: PDF launch document.


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