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Architecture Workroom
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IABR–2018+2020–The Missing Link— Delta Atelier

Together, the Netherlands and Flanders form part of one and the same unique spatial system in the Rhine, Maas and Scheldt delta, a densely urbanized area that plays an important role in the world economy. The revolutions and transitions we are facing now and in the coming decades will manifest themselves here in their own special way, and therefore also require specific spatial strategies. That's why IABR and Architecture Workroom Brussels set up the Delta Atelier, together with the architects in the Netherlands and Flanders.

The Delta Atelier aims to develop a practical perspective for the climate challenges in the Netherlands and Belgium, as a laboratory in the world. Local and regional challenges require replicable instruments, which can then be scaled up and tested at national and international level. The shared spatial assignments in the Low Countries yield international insights, both for governments and for social actors and innovators. The Delta Atelier wants to build a base that could lead to new challenges and partnerships.

IABR–2018+2020–The Missing Link

The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) has always been a research biennale, making room for continuous research through its Ateliers. The bienniale is not an objective, but a means: an international platform for knowledge transfer between designers, between cities, between governments and between professionals and the public. To this end, the IABR sets up exhibitions, conferences, films, books, lectures, debates, workshops and master classes. The series Designing the Future, which took place in the wake of IABR-2016, expanded the bundling effect of the biennale into Brussels. Seven substantive work sessions on urgent societal themes, with a focus on the potential of design research, were organized by AWB, the IABR, the Flemish Government Architect Team, the Flemish Association for Space and Planning, and the Public Waste Agency of Flanders. Each time, we deliberately chose to invite a very mixed party - both from Belgium and from the Netherlands.

The shared unique spatial system of Flanders and the Netherlands already formed the starting point for the De Lage Landen 2020-2100 study. A future exploration commissioned, in Flanders, by the Department of Environment and the Flemish Government Architect Team and, in the Netherlands, by the Department of Spatial Planning of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, and the Board of Government Advisers. The study was carried out by a consortium of designers and researchers led by AWB and formulates a number of radical spatial strategies that prepare the Low Countries for a sustainable and prosperous future. On this substantive basis, and with the cultural free space of the bienniale as a platform, the Delta Atelier continues is building further. In this way, a tradition of working at the crossroads between cultural manifestation, design research and knowledge exchange is preserved.

2018+2020–The Missing Link: Steps to an action perspective

In the Delta Atelier, acceleration mechanisms and methods will be designed and developed that will undoubtedly require major changes to our organizational structures and community habits. The persuasiveness of images and realizations will have to make the argument for an actual turnaround that is supported by a large group of players in different positions and from different implementation levels. We see design and spatial transformations as leverage for the necessary transitions, because new links and opportunities arise in space. Design offers a reality check, but can also bring to light the qualities of a new situation.

In various steps, the Delta Atelier wants to develop strategies, pool and unlock knowledge, and gather the "proof" that we want to put together on the table of society and politics during IABR 2020, with design as an argument.

The first step is IABR-2018, in Rotterdam and in Brussels. The exhibition brings existing ideas and observations together in one room, as one provocative future perspective. We are taking this time to set up a joint working agenda. What are we sure of? What should be researched and tested? How can we start? Eight work sessions will take place, followed by a work conference during the final weekend in Rotterdam. A second working conference will take place in Brussels in the autumn of 2018. The joint process is mapped out: where can we get together in two years? The exhibition and the final conference in 2020 are the next milestone. Here we want to show the progress that we have made, in word and image at the very least, but also in achievements in the field. That there is an action perspective. The 43 practices that were engaged in 2017 are only the first batch. The explicit ambition of the Delta Atelier is to take a connecting role between (new) clients, challenging cases, innovative concepts and policies. The IABR, AWB and both architects are therefore committed as facilitators for these new links, as "brokers" of The Missing Link.

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