Aren’t We All Urban By Nature? International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam

Aren’t We All Urban By Nature?



International Architecture Biennale ’14


What better place there is in The Netherlands for an International Architecture Biennale than Rotterdam, the Dutch port city that is establishing itself more and more as the modern architecture city of the country.

Outside of Yourtopia – Rotterdam, NL.

The biennale kicked off some two weeks ago, at the same time as the architecture festival ZigZagCity, but where the festival stopped the biënnale continues until the end of August.

This year’s theme of the IABR is Urban By Nature, an appropriate title, because – as was said during the opening at Kunsthal- aren’t we all urban by nature?


IABR at Kunsthal, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

With more and more people around the world flocking to cities, it’s not a surprise that these urban areas around the world are struggling how to deal with the fast growing urban populations and the environmental impact they have on cities. We see it all around us: pollution, urban waste, overpopulation, and much more.


International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam at Kunsthal – Rotterdam, The Netherlands

This swan – who built its nest out of rubbish she collected, just outside a construction site at Amsterdam’s Central Station – learned how to adapt to its urban surrounding, seemingly not caring much about the problems our eyes notice. Could we, or do we, adapt this easily too?


Photo courtesy: Jelle Reumer / Natural History Museum Rotterdam

For us this might seem hard to imagine, but what this swan does, is in fact not that much different from what many of us human-beings do. We notice the problems, we adapt to them and make as much out of it as we can under the given circumstances.

The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam shows us however that there are also those who actually look for solutions, try to solve the environmental problems – of which many have urban roots – in the cities, and those who actually re-invent our current environment and aim to change it to the better. As it is now, there’s nowhere else to go, we can’t go back and we are the ones who actually have to find a balance between the city and nature. No-one else will.


IABR at Kunsthal, Rotterdam

The IABR-2014 puts a strong emphasis on the possibilities we as citizens, companies, organizations and governments have to improve our urban surroundings, to bring the urban landscape more in balance with nature, therewith gradually solving environmental problems. If we succeed is of course still the question, but we should try at least, don’t you agree?

During the biennale over 100 existing projects – the results of ongoing research – are being presented in the Kunsthal, the adjacent Natural History Museum and at other locations in the city, showing how actively involved the society, politicians, researchers, designers and landscape architects actually already are in The Netherlands and other parts of the world.


IABR at Kunsthal, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Take for example Project Texel, where the possibility of an almost fully self-sufficient island is being explored or the Pompenburg Park in Rotterdam, where the Luchtsingel (the air boulevard) is connecting different parts of the city by a walkway over a neglected area which is planned to be transformed into a park with roof-gardens and all.


Local food production at DakAkker (Roof acre) – Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

With so many interesting and inspiring projects presented we are sure this year’s IABR is not only interesting for those active in the field, but also for a broader audience generally interested in and/or concerned about urbanisation. Make sure to take your time to explore these exhibitions though, there’s an awful lot of interesting information around.


Like to stay somewhere unique during your visit to the festival? This year the IABR organizes for the first time ‘Wake Up In Architecture‘ , during which visitors can stay overnight at an architect’s home over the weekend. Details can be found here.

The IABR 2014 is still on until 24 August 2014 and besides the exhibitions in the Kunsthal and the Natural History Museum there are many other events like lectures, field trips, conferences and even children’s treasure hunts planned. Click here for the full agenda.


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About The Author: Lydian Brunsting

'To be with Art is all we ask'- Gilbert and George. A quote that has stayed with me since I first saw it a couple of years ago. The word I would add though is 'travel' and that is, in fact, Art Weekenders, our new creation. The Art Weekenders project combines my passions for art, travel and photography, while we - at the same time - like to inspire and hopefully help you to prepare your art getaway. I am also photographer, writer and developer of the photoblog SHOuTography, a project that I started during a year of travelling through South-America to explore my life-long passion for photography.