The IBA meets IBA Network has agreed on a Memorandum on the future of International Building Exhibitions. In 2009, the common denominators that form the basis of all IBA processes and unite them at a high standard, were laid out in ten recommendations for organising IBAs. They are intended to provide a foundation and guidelines for the exhibitions. In particular because IBAs do not have any fixed rules, their significance to building culture and urban development must regularly be re-evaluated in a regional, national and international framework. In 2017, the IBA Advisory Board revised the IBA Memorandum and included supplements on important issues such as organisation, financing and projects.
The complete text of the IBA Memorandum can be downloaded here (German version)
Every IBA focuses on pressing challenges in architecture, urban and regional planning that arise from local and regional problems. IBAs are characterised by concentrating future questions of social change on aspects that trigger regional developments and can be influenced by the design of spaces in urban and rural contexts.
IBAs are more than just architecture exhibitions. They propose social blueprints for future ways of living and provide answers to social problems, not just through the design of buildings, but also through new ways of appropriating urban and rural spaces. It is through the experience of memorable places that the messages of an IBA are made manifest.
IBAs arise from specific challenges facing urban society: While the central themes of an IBA necessarily derive from a cause and location, their relevance extends far beyond the local context. Every IBA originates from locally or regionally focused initiatives and events that served as stimuli for further programmes, which the IBA in turn refines and formulates as courses of action. Preparatory formal and informal discussions among experts and with the public serve as important tools to help identify and define the topics.
IBAs strive to develop model solutions to current or future problems in building culture, economy, ecology and society. By demonstrating the relevance of their topics, challenges and concepts at an international scale, they influence ongoing debate on the future of our cities and regions in the context of wider social developments.
All IBAs are most well known for their buildings and projects. However, IBAs draw attention not only to the buildings, but also to the conditions in which they were created and the quality of the processes that contributed to them. Through the development of instruments and formats, every IBA aims to contribute to a new culture of planning and building that manifests itself in a spirit of cooperation and in the interplay of the quality of the process and its result.
IBAs must be created with an international dimension from the outset. A building exhibition is made international by the international relevance of its central topics and the resulting model projects, by the involvement of external experts and outstanding contributions from overseas as well as international public relations and networking.
The concentration of intellectual, artistic and financial resources over a limited period of time makes IBAs unique temporary microcosms. They are experimental research and development laboratories in which intense collaboration between experts and those affected, as well as with their experiences and successes, can motivate projects elsewhere, have a lasting impact on local planning practices and stimulate personal involvement.
IBAs require the courage to take risks. They are experiments with open outcomes and generate new ideas sometimes also through the means of provocation, which can seem contradictory. Contentious issues and productive controversies are important aspects of planning culture. All stakeholders – especially administration and politics as well as the public – must be made aware of this from the outset to enable initiatives to step outside the realms of standard practice and to generate widespread interest in the projects.
Every IBA needs sufficient autonomy and appropriate organisational forms to bring about exemplary and generalisable solutions that have the potential to be compelling models. In place of established processes and proven courses of action, IBAs need imaginative programmes, designs and organisational approaches coupled with a degree of improvisation and the agility to respond quickly to unforeseen events.
IBAs need to share their themes, ideas, projects as well as images of their built results with the world. They are at once a forum and a stage for their participants, presenting their contributions and commitment to a national and international audience. Modern communication and presentation strategies are essential to their success. Every IBA must exploit and develop the latest, most effective communication forms, formats and channels.