Each International Building Exhibition was created under specific historic, social and political conditions as a sign of its times. The stakeholders in every exhibition formulated an urgent need for social reform and design, which they manifested in model projects. Due to the different chronological, spatial and financial conditions, each IBA was implemented and presented in its own way.
As a result, the IBAs differ in subject and structure, but share the limited time frame and concentration of all efforts, funds and public attention on the predefined period. Accordingly, they always provided exceptional stimuli for a location or region. With their international discourse and ambitious quality standards, they also have a strong halo effect, both nationally and internationally. We can break the previous IBAs down into four development stages over the century they have been in existence:
1901 – 1957
The permanent building exhibition as an international demonstration of the state of the art in architecture
Early milestones in the history of building culture include Mathildenhoehe in Darmstadt, the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart and the Interbau in West Berlin. They were all built at times of historic upheaval and succeeded in breaking new ground in architecture and design with a strong political will and significant investment budgets. In this way, they made and built history. The IBAs were planned based on a strict social and building programme. This facilitated pioneering ensemble achievements, particularly impressive in the technical innovation and aesthetic and social quality of the buildings.
1979 – 1999
International Building Exhibitions as instruments of renovation for urban development
IBA Berlin and IBA Emscher Park were the first to incorporate existing buildings as well as new buildings. They shone a spotlight on urban quarters in need of renewal and the abandoned ruins of industrialisation. Process-driven work and local participation were emphasised increasingly, as process quality grew in importance. In addition to design innovations and a broader definition of architecture, social and ecological topics increasingly came to the fore. That earned IBA Berlin and IBA Emscher Park international visibility, marking a high point in recent IBA history.
2000 – 2013
International Building Exhibitions in a changing planning culture
With IBA Fürst-Pückler Land (also called IBA see) in the Lausitz region, IBA Stadtumbau (Urban Renewal) 2010 and IBA Hamburg, IBAs completed their transition to local and regional development programmes. In them, the IBA format is intentionally deployed at the intersection of urban and regional development policy objectives on one hand and strategic planning and project development on the other. Many locally active projects ensure the sustainability and acceptance of IBAs on the ground, but also generate international attention thanks to topics of global significance. They are financed through sophisticated municipal and state development programmes; the public funding for IBA Hamburg gave it strong leverage with private investors.
2010 – 2023
International Building Exhibitions on a new scale and transnational cooperation
The current Basel, Thüringen (Thuringia), Parkstad, Heidelberg, Wien (Vienna) and Stuttgart IBAs showcase how the perspective is broadening from local contexts, both in terms of programmes and projects, as well as international reach. They also explore the potential and challenge of “bottom-up planning” and aim to restore the social and political relevance of architecture and urban development, while also experimenting with different financing models.
Overview of IBAs:
|1989–1999||IBA Emscher Park|