The International Union of Architects (UIA) is a non-profit and non-governmental organization founded in 1948. UIA, with the support of UNESCO, initiated the election of the title of World Capital of Architecture to a new city every three years. The aim here is to emphasize the role of architecture and city planning in shaping a sustainable future and discussing global challenges.
A partnership agreement was formed in 2018, where UNESCO selects the host city. Once elected, the city converts into an international forum at the forefront for exchanging knowledge regarding the future of contemporary architecture and urban planning.
The UIA congresses have been held since 1948 and its objective has always been to address the challenges faced by society from the knowledge provided by architecture professionals. These congresses, which are held every three years, are linked to the designation of the host city as the UIA-Unesco World Capital of Architecture. (spainsnews, 2021)
Rio de Janeiro was the first elected city to host the World Congress of Architects in 2021. Due to the pandemic, the UIA2021RIO is the first virtual UIA World Congress in its history. Copenhagen will take the lead of the next World Congress in 2023, followed by Barcelona in 2026.
Barcelona has been named the world capital of Architecture for 2026 by Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of UNESCO. After Copenhagen and Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona will be the third city to host the International Union of Architects UIA’s world congress. Barcelona won the 2026 title over the city of Beijing by 147 votes to 129. The city will host the two important events in five years under the strong biding slogan “One today, one tomorrow”. The slogan explores the city’s ongoing approach towards a sustainable architectural future of the built environment.
Barcelona is the cosmopolitan capital of Spain and is famous worldwide for its extraordinary art and marvellous architecture. It is the largest organization that promotes cultural, social, economic, and environmental issues throughout the Mediterranean. The city’s museums also contain historic archaeological sites and beautiful architectural landmarks. Many architectural events await Barcelona in the coming years.
The city is working to host the 25th edition of the Spanish Biennale of Architects and Urban Planning (BEAU) and the New European Bauhaus event, an initiative that “calls on all Europeans to imagine and build together a sustainable and inclusive future that is beautiful for our eyes, minds, and souls.”
The World Congress of Architecture is expected to coincide with the completion of the majestic Sagrada Familia church on schedule for the 100th centenary of the death of its architect Antonio Gaudi. This opportunity to host two events further helps the city strengthen its role as a center for creation, architecture, design, and urban planning. This will enhance people’s lives by increasing the sense of social and cultural belonging whilst spreading knowledge across other countries for the betterment of their cities’ future.
“The celebration of this event is an excellent opportunity to strengthen the role of Barcelona, Catalonia, and Spain as centers of architectural production and thought contemporary and urban design,” says the Deputy Mayor for Urbanism of the Consistory of Catalonia, Janet Sanz.
The city is seen internationally as a leader in superblock construction, urban forests, and gender-based urban planning. Barcelona will also be awarded an organization fee of €150,000 as part of the title. Arte for Excelencias has more on the city’s architecture-related initiatives here. (Archinect, 2021)
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Al Bawaba. (n.d.). Barcelona Named UNESCO-UIA Capital of Architecture For 2026. [online] Available at: https://www.albawaba.com/editors-choice/barcelona-named-unesco-uia-capital-architecture-2026-1440542 [Accessed 3 Aug. 2021].
ArchDaily. (2021). Barcelona named UNESCO World Capital of Architecture for 2026. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/966002/barcelona-named-unesco-world-capital-of-architecture-for-2026 [Accessed 2 Aug. 2021].