Durban ICC hosts International Union of Architects World Congress (UIA 2014)

The 25th International Union of Architects World Congress (UIA), was held from 3rd – 7th August 2014, and brought more than 5000 delegates to Durban from all spheres of the architectural world. This was the first time that the ‘World Cup of Architects’ was held in sub-Saharan Africa and constituted the largest gathering of architectural, design and built-environment professionals ever held in the region.

The event offered a world-class line up of high-profile speakers who explored the congress theme ‘architecture OTHERWHERE’ which was aimed at celebrating diversity in design and stimulating debate around how architecture influences human settlements and the evolution of cities today. The congress also included an extensive Student Programme which offered over 1500 future young professionals the opportunity to engage with architects, pioneers in urban planning and academics from around the world.

The UIA congress was founded on the 28th of June 1948 in Lausanne, Switzerland, and has been held every three years since then. It has grown to a professional non-governmental organisation of architects in 124 countries and now represents more than 1 300 000 architects around the globe.

UIA2014 was also used as a launch pad for a three urban regeneration projects, which focus on stimulating interest in the built environment sector. These included the redevelopment of the Rivertown Precinct, located between the Durban ICC and the beachfront, which aims to transform the area into a thriving urban space incorporating mixed residential, hotel, commercial, cultural and retail offerings. The other projects included the activation of a section of Pixley Ka Seme Street, which showcased the creation of a high quality, pedestrian-priority public space, and “Pocket Parks” which provided places for relaxation and play areas for children in urban spaces.

Commenting on the event, acting Chief Executive Officer, Nicolette Elia-Beissel noted, “We are honoured to host an event of this calibre and importance, which also showcases the ability of our venue to host such high profile international events. The Durban ICC team rose to the occasion to facilitate the specific requirements of this complex event and the feedback from delegates has been overwhelmingly positive. As an added highlight, the Durban ICC was ranked in 14th spot in the Top 30 Architectural Designs in the City, which for us just adds to the energy and excitement of the congress, we are thrilled that the congress has been such a great success.”

Commenting on the success of the event, Hassan Asmal, President of the Local Organisation Committee, said “This is an incredibly exciting time for the South African architectural profession and a special time for South Africa in general in terms of cities, spaces and design. Through the scientific programme, trade exhibition and numerous fringe events the social, cultural, historical and urban fabric of Durban is being showcased.  The success of the first few days is far beyond our wildest dreams.”