The Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning

Publication The Future of International Building Exhibitions

Werkstatt: Praxis Issue 74, Ed.: BMVBS, Berlin 2011

Series: Werkstatt: Praxis Published: May 2011

Project management BBSR:
Eva Schweitzer (project leader)


The project "Die Zukunft Internationaler Bauausstellungen" [The Future of International Building Exhibitions] views the discussion concerning the development of IBA [Internationale Bauausstellung - International Building Exhibition]) in Germany in two research elements. The study was conducted in the context of a constantly increasing number of building exhibitions in shorter time on the one hand, and the quality requirements of the IBA processes stated by the IBA protagonists themselves on the other hand. The first element, the international project research, aims at enriching the discussion with an international view. Therefore, international case studies were examined to find out whether similar formats and projects can be found in Europe, and which of their aspects may be applied to the discussion in Germany. A second target level was to initiate an international contact network with the goal to place the discussion on urban development projects on a European platform and link experts to each other internationally.

The IBA similarity of international case studies was the guiding principle for the project. It was derived from the IBA memorandum, a recommendation written by IBA protagonists and experts for the realisation of an international building exhibition. The individual aspects of similarity were prepared in a matrix that formed a grid pattern of selection criteria for the research of almost 100 European projects and formats leading to the extract and evaluation of ten case studies and further relevant formats and guidelines.

The international networking process took place in an expert workshop at the beginning of the project. Specialists from eleven countries contributed their experiences and suggestions concerning the IBA and the IBA memorandum to the project. A second network level was established in the context of the revision of ten case studies. For each case study, there are contact persons available for a project-related professional exchange.

The following points rank among the essential findings of this study:

  • In Europe, there are no formats directly comparable with the IBA. For similar requirements different projects and formats are being applied.
  • Only few of the examined projects work under lab conditions and with a bottomup approach at the same time. Unique characteristics of the IBA like the linkage of a top-down and bottom-up approach, the admission of experiments and of openness towards innovation and goals arouse more and more interest in the IBA format and its results European-wide.
  • Instruments of analysis and quality control have only been developed in few examples abroad despite an obviously increasing complexity and need for reflexion resulting from this fact. On the other hand, in some countries guidelines and Baukultur institutions (i.e. institutions for a better built environment) exist, already established in the area of quality control of strategies and projects with IBA-like aspects
  • Many strategies and project scopes increasingly connect, like the IBA, the pure process of building with soft strategies of distinguishing sites either through the arts, communication or events. At the same time, a tendency towards regionalisation of the approaches can be detected.
  • The following key-topics in the context of possible learning effects for the IBA can be highlighted in the sense of a cross-sectional view: reason for urban development chains, scale and area of reference, identification of aims and topics, conditions for innovation/funding of innovation, quality of process, communication & image, quality assurance, functional chains and improvement of continuity.

A detailed summary of the results can be found in chapter 2.

This investigation of IBA-like formats in an international context shows that it will be fruitful to integrate the experiences made abroad into the planning and realisation of future international building exhibitions in order to improve the process quality and the effects. The practical integration into evaluation and monitoring methods for the quality assurance of the IBA is a central task.

The development of such a monitoring system for an internal self-evaluation of future international building exhibitions as an instrument of quality assurance of the "IBA trademark" was the topic of the second element. So far, nor has there been a monitoring process that can be generalised for the IBA, neither has there been a systematic research for a functional logic which is an essential prerequisite. Therefore, the research work is divided into two steps: the analysis of the functional logic of an IBA exhibition and the development of recommendations of action for future IBA exhibitions.

The mechanisms of functioning were examined with the help of the IBA Fürst-Pückler-Land [region in Germany, Brandenburg] chosen as a case study. Partially structured interviews with protagonists of this IBA exhibition were a central instrument for the empirical survey. The structure of the interviews was worked out on the basis of the already existing knowledge on international building exhibitions and similar formats. It was fed back with the IBA council of experts.

By means of these interviews, different phases could be identified and isolated from each other:

  • pre-IBA
  • starting phase
  • project phase
  • final phase

These phases represent the ideal type of phases that were identified out of an abstraction of the information obtained from the IBA Fürst-Pückler-Land. The real process does not follow rigidly this scheme of phases but shows overlaps, parallel developments and also regressions to previous phases. Nevertheless, these phases have proved to be suitable for structuring the processes of the sample IBA as well as the developed recommendations.

From the functional logic, also structured by phases, general recommendations were extracted that can be important for the realisation of present and future international building exhibitions. They represent the first step towards a complex monitoring system that can support the protagonists of an IBA exhibition when self-evaluating their processes. The results of a validation workshop taking place in Dortmund on November 22, 2010 have been taken into consideration. The workshop's main topic was the general applicability of the conclusions drawn from the IBA-Fürst-Pückler-Land. Nevertheless, the development of recommendations and of a monitoring system that can generally be used for future IBA exhibitions needs an enlargement of the data basis by other international building exhibitions. Also more critical discussions between the IBA protagonists and external experts should be conducted.

Initiated by the IBA validation workshop, especially "IBA-typical" recommendations were filtered and emphasized. In addition, general hints for a "good" project development are illustrated. The following features are considered as being typical for IBA:

  • the especially innovative character of the idea of the IBA that cannot be realised with conventional instruments and formats,
  • the degree of "relative alienation", meaning external influences and expertise when organising and realising an IBA exhibition,
  • a finely divided communication strategy,
  • visionary project ideas that are initially created apart from hard calculations,
  • the temporary lack of triviality and daily routines,
  • the creation of degrees of freedom to allow experimental action and
  • the definition of a mission for the future that can serve as a basis for planning at the end of an IBA exhibition.

Recommendations for action are described in chapter 5. A detailed description of the functional logic approach of the IBA Fürst Pückler-Land can be found in chapter 6.

The abstract is part of the German publication "Die Zukunft Internationaler Bauausstellungen. Internationale Fallstudien und ein Monitoringkonzept", Werkstatt: Praxis Heft 74, Hrsg.: BMVBS, Berlin 2011
ISBN 978-3-87994-975-5, urn:nbn:de:101:1-20110510570
Download (PDF, 48MB, File meets accessibility standards)

This Page

Also interesting

Multi-Level Analysis of Urban and Spatial Development

original title: Stadtentwicklung beobachten, messen und umsetzen

Informationen zur Raumentwicklung (IzR) Issue 1/2021 |

Migration and the City

Informationen zur Raumentwicklung (IzR) Issue 5.2013 |

On the road to becoming a Smart Citizen

Defining, locating and supporting digital competences

BBSR-Analysen KOMPAKT Issue 08/2017 |

Unity and difference

Informationen zur Raumentwicklung (IzR) Issue 5.2015 |

Equivalent living conditions in Europe: Between dissatisfaction and cooperation

original title: Gleichwertigkeit in Europa – Zwischen Unzufriedenheit und Zusammenarbeit

Informationen zur Raumentwicklung (IzR) Issue 3/2019 |

Online participation in urban development

original title: Online-Partizipation in der Stadtentwicklung

Informationen zur Raumentwicklung (IzR) Issue 6/2017 |