THE NEXT ECONOMY: International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam calls for projects from Africa

Source: The Hope Project

by Edgar Pieterse

The mainstream hype around the strong GDP growth of many African countries over the past fifteen years belies the fact that very few decent jobs are being created and income inequality is alarming, and worsening. It is shortsighted and ignorant to think that the fortunes of the majority of urban Africans will be improved through “more of the same” models of economic growth. A paradigm shift is needed, and urgently. As the IABR–2016–The Next Economy chief curator Maarten Hajer’s Curator Statement suggests, such a new paradigm must serve the majority of people and nature in an integral way, which demands “an active re-imagining of the city, a redesign of its underlying logic, its system and the way it is arranged both spatially, organizationally and financially.”

Thus, the IABR-2016-THE NEXT ECONOMY provides a fantastic opportunity for African urban designers, architects, landscape architects, academics, artists, planners, cities, universities, companies and social organizations, or coalitions thereof, to submit best practices, projects and plans that contribute towards or illuminate the dimensions of a new imagination for the African City  in response to the IABRs’ global call for projects.

Within the context of IABR-2016 there will be a unique opportunity to tell African stories about the ills of de facto urbanism and, even more important, showcase innovative practices that align with the vision of THE NEXT ECONOMY. The unique conditions of urban Africa marked by economic, residential and regulatory informality and a multitude of hybrid conditions provide fertile opportunities to project what an organic alternative paradigm might involve as a practice.

Furthermore, the extremities of the African context can offer insights for a global debate about how best to transition urban systems and polities from a resource-intensive, spatially inefficient and exclusionary machine to one that can mutate on the basis of grassroots innovation, appropriate technological enhancement and constant adaptation through learning. In this sense, thinking and acting in the African context might provide essential clues to enrich the search for a new take on the future city where an inclusive and vibrant economy will arise.

Visit the website of IABR at ; if you want to learn more about last year’s edition, IABR–2014–URBAN BY NATURE, go here.

If you want to submit your project for IABR–2016, please read the Call for Projects and the Curator Statement carefully –they can be downloaded on this page. Then fill in the Application Form and mail it to us not later than June 4, 9AM.

  • Download the Application Form here
  • Download the full Call for Projects here
  • Download the Curator Statement here

About the Call for Projects


The seventh edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam,IABR–2016–THE NEXT ECONOMY–, will open in April 2016. Chief Curator is Maarten Hajer, director-general of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

We invite urban designers, architects, landscape architects, academics, artists, planners, cities, universities, companies and social organizations, or coalitions thereof, to submit best practices, projects and plans in response to the challenges formulated in the IABR–2016–CALL FOR PROJECTS– and further articulated in the IABR–2016–CURATOR STATEMENT–.

IABR–2016 is a platform for fresh ideas on the possible future of the twenty-first-century city. We will exhibit designs and promote dialogues that open up perspectives of the city we want: a clean city, a communal city, a productive city – a city in which the public space once again occupies center stage.


  1. Text by Edgar Pieterse of the African Centre for Cities
  2. Call for projects via IABR-2016 
  3. Feature Image:
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