Barcelona is set to host the most important event in architecture in 2026, with the arrival of the World Architecture Congress by the International Union of Architects (UIA). At the same time, the city will be the UIA-UNESCO World Capital of Architecture. The choice of Barcelona to host these two events recognises the city’s architecture, urban planning and landscape as an international example and will offer a chance to reflect and share experiences on urban planning models and architecture as tools for social development and quality of life.
The assembly by the International Union of Architects, held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), chose Barcelona over the other candidate city, the Chinese city of Beijing, by 147 votes to 129. The vote in favour of Barcelona means the city will hose the most important event in this sector in five years’ time. Under the slogan ‘One today, one tomorrow’, the congress will use the city’s world-renowned relationship with architecture as an example to debate a feasible and sustainable future and make an analysis of the current socio-economic and environmental context. The goal is to address the challenges facing architecture and define the tools for meeting them.
At the same time, throughout the year, Barcelona will be organising multi-disciplinary cultural events on architecture and urban planning to convey their importance to all citizens. The city will thus become an inclusive, Mediterranean point of reference, open to the world.
Hosting the two events provides a great opportunity to strengthen the role of the city as a centre for production and thought on architecture and the design of contemporary urban planning. The events will explore the capacity of urban planning to improve people’s lives, well-being and sense of social and cultural belonging, as well as the need be able to extend these factors and make them important in other countries, as a transformational tool and a means of social change to move towards the cities of the future.
Seventy years of history
UIA congresses have been held since 1948. The goal on each occasion is to address the challenges facing society through the rigorous knowledge contributed by professionals in architecture. The city held this same event a quarter of a century ago, in 1996. At that time the slogan was ‘Present and future: architecture in cities’, the event proving to be a great success with the public and having an international impact.