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Rotterdam to celebrate ‘Summer of Architecture’

With events ranging from exhibitions, field trips, special tours and overnight stays at an architect’s home, the city of Rotterdam will be highlighting and celebrating its architectural heritage and future during the upcoming sixth International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, to be held from May 29 to August 24, 2014. This year’s Biennale theme will be URBAN BY NATURE.

Given that there are more trees to be found in parks and nurseries these days than in the world’s rainforests and with more than half the global population living in urban areas, cities have effectively become our natural environment. This insight has led to a different take on the relationship between cities and nature, and to the conclusion that those looking to solve our environmental issues need to start in the city. The programme for IABR 2014 was conceived by landscape architect Dirk Sijmons.

The central hub of this year’s event will be Kunsthal Rotterdam, where guests can visit the main IABR exhibition from May 29 to August 24. The Pure Veerkracht [‘Pure Resilience’] exhibition to be held at the adjacent Rotterdam Museum of Natural History [Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam] sets out to demonstrate that cities are themselves also part of the natural world. The joint ticket allows entry to both museums. The price of a regular ticket is €11 – this is the regular Kunsthal admission price. Museumkaart [Annual Museum Pass] holders only pay a €5 surcharge for IABR admission.

Symposiums, debates, event and field trips
The IABR will be covering a full range of architectural theory and practice in its events, with a varied programme including lectures, debates and symposiums. Many of these events are publicly available and aimed at professionals in the field, while other events aim to attract a more general audience with a personal interest in the Biennale themes (including underground routes and field trips to the Maasvlakte industrial estate and the Port of Rotterdam). Full event listings will be available on the IABR website from mid-April.

Staying overnight with an architect in ‘Wake Up in Architecture’
For the first time this year, the successful ‘Wake Up in It’ initiative – which offers overnight stays at the homes of artists during festivals – will provide visitors with the opportunity to stay overnight at an architect’s home over a weekend. What makes the event even more exciting is that the architect’s name and address will only be revealed after the guest has registered. The cost of an overnight stay is €60 for one guest and €100 for two guests, including breakfast, Dutch VAT and tourist tax.

This is the second time the ZigZagCity architecture festival will be marking the start of the IABR. Held from May 29 to June 9, ZigZagCity will take you on a fascinating journey right through Rotterdam, inviting you to look at the city through different eyes. Visitors get to embark on a tour of the historic Laurenskwartier district, taking them from Luchtsingel to the world-famous Cube Houses and the Blaakse Bos building complex.

1:1 Model of a house
This summer Bjarne Mastenbroek and his office SeARCH will design a temporary house on the site between Het Nieuwe Instituut and Sonneveld House. Mastenbroek describes his design as a ‘Yourtopia’ and a response to social themes such as globalisation, the invasion of privacy, and the unbalance in the division of wealth. Such developments force architecture to carry out a fundamental ‘reset’.
The house, which can be visited from May 29 till September 28 therefore returns to the basis: what is the minimum we need to enjoy the maximum quality of life?
The project by Mastenbroek is the first in a series of follies that Het Nieuwe Instituut will commission in the coming years as part of its long-term programme entitled Landscape and Interior. Every two years during the IABR, a Dutch architect, designer or theorist will be invited to design a model house.

Other Rotterdam highlights:

Dakpark [Roof Park]:
The dakpark [roof park] is Europe’s largest public park located on a shopping boulevard and the largest ‘green’ roof to be found in Rotterdam. Measuring 1,200 metres in length and 85 metres in width, the park consists of a Mediterranean garden, a playground and a communal garden maintained by residents.

The Bobbing Forest:
Artist Jorge Bakker has created the Bobbing Forest ‘In Search Of Habitus’ installation. It comprises a water-filled aquarium with bobbers containing scale model trees. Art producer Mothership is realising the concept in a life-size installation at the former city port Rijnhaven.

Water Square Benthemplein:
The unique water retention square helps the Rotterdam Agniesebuurt to keep its feet dry during heavy rainfall. When necessary, the square can retain nearly two million litres of water. When the weather is dry, the square proves the local residents’ and students’ input: the square can host a number of activities in sports, theatre and relaxation.