World Architecture and World Habitat Day: much to discuss for a better urban future


October is a significant month for Architecture: World Architecture Day and World Habitat Day are both celebrated on its first Monday (which falls on October 5 this year). And on October 31, World Cities Day is celebrated. These latter two dates were selected by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). In 2020, the theme for the celebrations of World Architecture and World Habitat Day is Housing for All: A Better Urban Future.

This year, UIA2021RIO is celebrating these dates through a campaign that will extend throughout the month, with special content addressing the issue of housing published in the digital media of the 27th World Congress of Architects. The content will be produced jointly with partners working in many different ways to surmount the massive challenges raised by contemporary cities, particularly housing shortages and ramshackle homes.

On Monday, October 5, the International Union of Architects (UIA) will launch these discussions with a live webinar starting at 9 a.m. (Brasília time) / noon (Greenwich Mean Time).

Moderated by UIA President Thomas Vonier and General Secretary Serban Tiganas, this webinar features leading names in architecture and urban conceptualisers. Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the UN-Habitat Victor Kisob, and the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture Ernesto Ottone, will engage in a discussion on Towards a Better Urban Future, with architect Kai-Uwe Bergmann, from the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG).

Next, the Director of the UIA Work Programme on Community Architecture + Human Rights Nadia Tromp, will address the topic of Housing for All. The topic of Water will be presented by guest speaker Professor Max Maurer, a scientist with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Air quality will be discussed by Georg Pendl, the President of the Architects’ Council of Europe.

Public Spaces is the theme of the panel session with Joseph Kwan, UIA Director of the Region IV (Asia and Oceania), with Training in Architecture addressed by the Magda Mostafa, the Co-Director of the UNESCO-UIA Education Commission and Validation Council.

Finally, Sustainability is the topic for the panel session launching the new Architecture Guide to the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with Ishtiaque Zahir and Natalie Mossin, Co-Directors of the UIA Sustainable Development Goals Commission.

According to Thomas Vonier, the purpose of this event is to “show urban design and architecture can make communities strong, safe, equitable and accessible, leading to a better urban future.”

Urban Circuit: a month of events spotlighted the development of cities

In order to celebrate its two main dates, UN-Habitat runs its Urban October campaign each year, with topic steering events throughout the month. In 2020, World Habitat Day addresses the issue of Housing for All: A Better Urban Future, while World Cities Day focuses on Valuing our Communities and Cities.

In Brazil, the UN-Habitat office has been organising the Urban Circuit since 2018, providing institutional support and spotlighting events organised by different actors. The 2020 Urban Circuit will be virtual, backed by a partnership with the UN Habitat Offices in Portuguese-speaking African countries. The selected theme is: Post-COVID-19 Cities: Dialogues between Brazil and Portuguese-Speaking Africa

Supporting the Urban Circuit, UIA2021RIO will publicise registered events through its social networks.

The president of the International Union of Architects (UIA), Thomas Vonier stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered customs and social spaces all over the world, noting that crises are clearly weighing far more heavily on poorer populations.

“In many of the world cities, people are unable to follow safe practices, simply because they lack clean air and water, and even sufficient space. Urban policies must ensure adequate services, shelter, and recreational areas for all citizens. Urban planning, design and architecture are essential for a better urban future for all,” he concludes, referring to one of the Urban October themes for 2020.



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