In 2026 Barcelona will host the most important international event of the architecture sector, the World Architecture Congress of the International Union of Architects (UIA) and, in parallel, it will be the UIA-UNESCO world capital of architecture. The choice of the city to be the setting for both events recognizes the architecture, urban planning and landscape of Barcelona as an international reference and will allow reflection and exchange of experiences on models of urban planning and architecture as tools for social development and quality of life.
With 147 votes, out of 129 from the other aspiring city, Beijing, the assembly of the International Union of Architects, which met in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), has chosen the city to host, within five years, the most important event of the sector. With the slogan “One today, one tomorrow”, the congress will take as an example the relationship of the city and the architecture of the city, recognized throughout the world, to discuss a viable and sustainable future and make an analysis of the current social, environmental and economic context that helps to raise what are the challenges of architecture and define the instruments to achieve them.
Barcelona’s candidacy has been promoted by the Barcelona City Council, the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, the Generalitat of Catalonia, the Higher Council of the Colleges of Architects of Spain (CSCAE) and the College of Architects of Catalonia (COAC ).
At the same time, throughout the year, multidisciplinary cultural events on architecture and urban planning will also be organized in Barcelona to convey the importance of these areas to all citizens. Thus, Barcelona will position itself as a cultural city of reference, inclusive, Mediterranean and open to the world.
The celebration of these events is a great opportunity to strengthen the role of the city as a center for the production and thought of contemporary architecture and urban design. The capacity it has to improve people’s lives and the factors of life, well-being and sense of social and cultural belonging will be deepened, as well as the need to make them extensible and relevant in other countries, as a transforming and social change tool to move towards the cities of the future.
Seventy years of history
The UIA congresses have been held since 1948 and, on each occasion, the objective is to address the challenges faced by society from the rigorous knowledge provided by architecture professionals. The city was already the venue for this same event just a quarter of a century ago, in 1996. Then the motto of the event was “Present and futures: architecture in cities”, with a resounding public success and international impact.