»From plans on paper to cranes on the ground«: IBA’27 is taking shape
There are five years left until the presentation year for the Internationale Bauausstellung 2027 StadtRegion Stuttgart (International Building Exhibition, IBA’27). Exhibition locations across the entire region will then show an international audience as well as local residents what the future of building, housing and working might look like, with buildings and neighbourhoods as experiential exhibits that have found honest, futureproof answers to the climate crisis and to social and technological change. At Friday’s annual press conference, the IBA provided an update on its progress with its partners.
»IBA’27 is all grown up«. This is how IBA’27 Artistic Director Andreas Hofer summed up the status of the work taking place. More than 150 ideas have been submitted from across the region since the IBA launched an open call for projects back in 2018. Roughly 90 proposals have been included in the IBA’27 Network, 16 of which are currently included in the portfolio as official IBA’27 Projects. The framework for the programme is defined by five topics and spaces that the IBA came up with based on the entries. At its core, the programme is about an innovative productive city region with a mix of working and living, industry and leisure time, trade and cultural life in liveable high-density neighbourhoods.
New forms of mixed use in high-density, green neighbourhoods
Hofer reported that good progress was being made on the projects. Various competitions were held and the results announced, with some attracting lots of international participants. Based on the results of public consultations, cooperative planning procedures, feasibility studies and intensive expert discussions, there are now tangible concepts in place for numerous proposals and projects. Urban development designs, for example in Winnenden, demonstrate new forms of sophisticated mixed use that bring together diverse forms of housing with spaces for business and industry in green neighbourhoods. Meanwhile, innovative densification projects such as those planned in Böblingen and Stuttgart present model solutions for enhancing city centres and existing residential quarters.
Many of the projects are focused on conversion measures, resource-saving construction technologies and building materials and a circular economy. Examples like in Sindelfingen show how to preserve grey energy with new models for reusing existing building complexes. There are designs for urban densification that also activate green spaces and water areas in order to make neighbourhoods more resilient against the impact of climate change. Stuttgart-Rot and Kernen im Remstal are just two examples of this approach. Various projects are also concerned with new mobility concepts that are not satisfied with simply maintaining the status quo going forward.
Andreas Hofer: »Using courage and skill to bring ideas to the building site«
According to IBA’27 Artistic Director Andreas Hofer, »We are seeing evidence that we are probably on the right track with our topics. Participants at many different levels have recognised that we need to fundamentally change how we plan and how we build if we mean to take the climate crisis and social and economic transformation seriously.« He feels that it is now time to use courage and skill to bring the ideas and the designs onto the building sites. Hofer had this to say: »Despite all of the enthusiasm, we are also noticing that these large and novel projects are testing the limits of what established processes can do in some areas, for example in the construction sector, in project development and management, and at local authorities«. He believes there is now a need to bundle strengths, mobilise all resources, adjust structures and processes and learn together. »If we all commit to exploring new ways of implementation together in the spirit of the IBA, I am certain that we can come up with a whole range of truly ambitious exhibits by 2027 that will allow people to experience on a real-life scale what buildings and neighbourhoods made for a world in transition could look like«.
The process for including proposals in the IBA’27 Network is still ongoing, and proposals already included in the IBA’27 Network can still become IBA’27 Projects. However, due to time constraints alone, the IBA considers it unlikely that new proposals submitted from now on will be completed in time for the IBA in 2027. »We also see the network as documentation of a transformation process that will create a new image of the Stuttgart Region over the course of the ten-year IBA process«, explained Hofer. As of today, the IBA is expecting to have between 20 and 25 exhibition projects, some of which will be on a large scale, making up the bulk of the projects for the 2027 presentation year.
Karin Lang: »Innovation programme for new planning and building processes«
Implementation on site is the responsibility of the various project initiators, which include municipalities, cooperatives, private investors and municipal construction companies. The task of IBA’s interdisciplinary team, which now numbers 21 staff members, is to provide assistance and inspiration for the projects as well as quality assurance, networking and communication. As Karin Lang reported, the IBA was practically overrun by its success in the past year. As the CFO of IBA’27 GmbH and Managing Director of the association IBA’27 Friends e.V., she is responsible for the organisational framework and the resources of the IBA.
She reported that »It is not only the wealth of entries but also the extensive process of qualifying as an IBA’27 Project that proved significantly more complex than originally expected«. In many cases, the IBA’27 Team is closely involved in project development in order to leverage the maximum potential of the projects. She explained that the last two years in particular have shown that some established processes need to be fundamentally questioned. The urgency of the climate crisis and the coronavirus pandemic were additional proof of this, she said. »To do this, an outside view is needed. As a once-off organisation that will exist for a limited period, the IBA assumes precisely this role. It is more than an exhibition; it’s also an innovation programme for new planning and building processes. That’s why we are very grateful that our major shareholders and the State of Baden-Württemberg have stepped up the basic funding available to IBA’27 GmbH.« She reported that the IBA succeeded in winning the first three funders from industry, namely Wolff & Müller, Züblin/Strabag and Würth, in 2021.
»Thanks to this bigger economic buffer at our backs, we can now plan our first IBA’27 festival, which is to take place in 2023«, said Karin Lang. She explained that the festival is an important component of the ten-year process to give the IBA widescale visibility in the region. »IBA sees itself as an open, dialogue-based format for everyone in the Stuttgart Region«. The new association IBA’27 Friends e.V. founded in 2021 also helps in this respect, she concluded.
Thomas S. Bopp: »Investments in the IBA are investments in the future«
»IBA’27 is a regional project for the future that will be carried on many shoulders«, said Thomas S. Bopp, Chair of the Supervisory Board of IBA’27 GmbH and Chair of Verband Region Stuttgart. »When the IBA was launched, it wasn’t possible to know how many projects would apply and how much work it would involve for IBA’27 GmbH itself. Over the past three years, we have now seen what the IBA with its highly motivated and competent team can achieve in the region.« He acknowledged that the large network that the IBA has built up comprising a wide range of different stakeholders and experts has also been helpful in this regard. IBA’27, he says, has become »a driving force behind the transformation process«. Verband Region Stuttgart is also making a huge professional contribution, for example to the transformation of the Neckar into a liveable landscape or to innovative neighbourhoods along the S-Bahn commuter rail network. »We see the additional funding for IBA’27 GmbH as a good investment in the future. It will allow the IBA to continue its valuable work with enthusiasm and to the quality to which we have become accustomed.« Nevertheless, Bopp declared that it would take a huge amount of dedication on the part of the local authorities and additional resources in order to move »from plans on paper to cranes on the ground«.
Dr. Frank Nopper: »Creating a framework worthy of the Weissenhof Estate«
Dr. Frank Nopper, Deputy Chair of the Supervisory Board of IBA’27 GmbH and Lord Mayor of the City of Stuttgart, reported among other things on the projects and proposals in Stuttgart. An important milestone in 2022 will be the judging for an international ideas competition for the Weissenhof Estate and its surrounding areas, which will take place in the summer. The competition has been organised by the City of Stuttgart together with the State of Baden-Württemberg and in cooperation with IBA’27. »The point of departure and point of reference for IBA’27 is Stuttgart’s Weissenhof Estate. Three years ago, the City of Stuttgart’s housing company was able to purchase the Weissenhof Estate from the federal state. Now an open international ideas competition is under way, among other things to create an appropriate entrance to this architectural treasure. It is ultimately also about creating a worthy framework for the entire estate, which each year is visited by tourists from all over the world. I am pleased that the City of Stuttgart and the State of Baden-Württemberg are working hand in hand to hold this ideas competition.«
Wolfgang Riehle: »A societal event with a resounding impact«
The IBA also gets support as a broad discussion platform from the association IBA’27 Friends e.V., founded in 2021. Members come from civil society, from business, from academia as well as from associations and municipalities. The role of Chair of the association is held by Wolfgang Riehle, Honorary President of the Baden-Württemberg Chamber of Architects, who had this to say: »The IBA is a societal event with a resounding impact. As friends of the IBA, we want to support it in bringing its ideas and concepts to a wide audience and to get as many citizens as possible excited about a new building culture.« To achieve this goal, the association supports various events and exhibitions, which this year include a three-day symposium and IBA plenary session from 29 June to 1 July 2022 at the Weissenhof area on the topic of the »Legacy of Modernism«. There are also plans to hold a Neckar Conference for the neighbouring municipalities together with Verband Region Stuttgart in mid-July.