March 21, 2009 - International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam - Open City: Designing Coexistence
March 21, 2009

Open City: Designing Coexistence

Photo by Fabienne Hölzel

Open City: Designing Coexistence
24 September 2009 – 10 January 2010

4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) – Open City:
Designing Coexistence

The 4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam will take place from 24 September 2009 through 10 January 2010. The theme ‘Open City: Designing Coexistence’ is being developed by curator Kees Christiaanse and his team at the ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.

Open City: Designing Coexistence
How can architects and urbanists stimulate social, cultural, and economic coexistence? Open City: Designing Coexistence, the 4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, is exploring, documenting, and designing strategies for coexistence in today’s cities.

The Open City is an urban condition that enables diverse groups to interact peacefully, creatively, and productively. But the Open City is not a ‘soup’; it is a finely tuned integration machine that encourages distinct communities and groups to settle and establish the dynamic relationships that we call urbanity.

Today, the very diversity that once activated our cities threatens to dissolve them: cities are turning into archipelagos; public infrastructures are splintering; and public spaces are being left to wither. Differences between rich and poor, conflicts among ethnic groups, and the proliferation of gated communities and security zones are some of the symptoms that point to the urgent need to re-address the idea of Open City and translate it into concrete intervention strategies.

In order to be sustained in the face of today’s urban challenges, the Open City must be researched and (re)designed. This is the task of the 4th IABR.

Six themes
The curators have selected six international teams of experts to work on six situations in which geographical, spatial, typological and socio-cultural conditions reveal the most pertinent qualities and potentials of Open City. The results of their work will be exhibited and discussed extensively during the 4th IABR in the NAI.

The six themes and sub-curators are:
1. Community (USA): Interboro, New York.
2. Collective (Russia): Bart Goldhoorn, Alexander Sverdlov with Anna Bronovitskaya / Project Russia.
3. Refuge (Istanbul, Beirut, Amman, Cairo, Dubai): Philipp Misselwitz and Can Altay, Istanbul.
4. Squat (Addis Ababa, Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro): Jörg Stollmann and Rainer Hehl Berlin/Zurich
5. Reciprocity (Jakarta): Stephen Cairns and Daliana Suryawinata, Edinburg/Rotterdam
6.The Maakbare Samenleving/The Make-able Society (Rotterdam): Crimson Architectural Historians, Rotterdam.

Other events
Besides the main exhibition, hosted by the Netherlands Architecture Institute, programmes are being developed in other venues in Rotterdam and in Amsterdam, and with VPRO, the Dutch national broadcaster. Parallel Cases // IABR@RDM is a collaboration with the Academy for Architecture and Urban Design Rotterdam and the IHS/Erasmus University, and will show designs and research projects related to the themes Squat, Community, Refuge, Collective and Reciprocity, from international schools and universities.

Kees Christiaanse, curator
Kees Christiaanse (1953) is known as one of today’s most significant practicing architects and urban designers. He was a partner at OMA Rotterdam and founded KCAP Architects & Planners in 1989, with offices in Rotterdam and Zurich. Since 2003 he has been head of the Institute for Urban Design at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and a visiting professor at the London School of Economics. He is actively involved in concrete urban projects, such as the development of docklands in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Hamburg, and is designing an “urban breeding ground” in London for the Olympic Legacy Masterplan. He is conceiving the program of this biennale with co-curator Tim Rieniets and his team in Zurich, the sub-curators mentioned above, and the IABR staff in Rotterdam directed by George Brugmans.

The IABR brochure Exploring Urban Futures provides extensive background information on the 4th IABR. To order a copy, please send an e-mail to stating your name, organization and full address, and mentioning brochure as subject.

For more information, please contact Xandra Nibbeling at the IABR press office: +31 10 206 00 33,, or visit

4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam

International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam
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