Under the title Nature of Hope, the eleventh edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) examines nature, culture and hope from the perspective of architectural thought and action, as a driving force for social change.


The IABR 2024 will take place from June 26 to October 20, 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?


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.


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.


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.

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