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Bienal Internacional de Arquitectura

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The Europan congress places this week Donostia at the epicentre of European architecture

  • In addition to the meeting of 150 experts in the Kursaal, there is an exhibition at the headquarters of the COAVN with projects awarded in the previous edition of the biennial Europan competition, which calls on young architects to participate in the reflection on urban sites across the continent.
  • The exhibition, which is unpublished, brings together the 28 works awarded by the Spanish jury and the 18 submitted by national teams for sites in other countries.
  • Lasarte-Oria, which received the most proposals out of the 47 offered in Europe, was one of the leading locations in the previous edition. This year, the site chosen by the Basque Country, in the town of Beizama, was once again the favourite.
  • The 'International Cities Forum' is taking place until tomorrow in Donostia (after Brussels 2017 and Innsbruck 2019). It brings together landscape designers, urban planners, institutional leaders and promising young European architects from 9 countries.

During this week, Donostia becomes the epicentre of continental architecture thanks to Europan. This entity fulfils several functions at the same time: it is an international competition that promotes the young talents of European architecture, as well as being a forum that brings together administrations (European Parliament, national, regional and local governments), prestigious architects, juries and previous prize-winners. In addition, during the month of November it is organising an exhibition at the Gipuzkoa headquarters of the Official Basque-Navarrese Association of Architects (COAVN) with the prize-winning works from the last edition.

On display are the 28 projects selected by the Spanish jury, in addition to the 18 submitted by Spanish teams that were awarded prizes in other participating countries (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden).
The Europan competition, which is held every two years, deepens knowledge and research in the field of habitat and urban planning through exchanges between professionals from the European countries that take part in the initiative. Based on a theme, a set of rules and a timetable common to all the countries organising it, it invites young architects to participate in the reflection on various urban sites offered by the organisers from all over the continent by the organisers from all over the continent. To date, and since its foundation in 1988, 15 Europan competitions have been held, in which more than 46,000 teams of young architects have registered. Many of them have found in the competition the opportunity to put their ideas into practice and make a name for themselves in international architecture.
With more than 30 years of experience, Europan is a platform for innovation in architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture at European level that every two years organises a competition of ideas and projects aimed at young architects under 40 years of age and which brings together political and institutional decision-makers together with experts from the academic world and promising young architects. 
The 16th edition is currently being finalised on the theme of 'Living Cities'. Forty cities from nine different countries are taking part: France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and Spain. The jury for this year's edition meets this Sunday at the Basque Institute of Architecture in San Sebastian to decide the winning teams.
The Basque Country, a "benchmark"
Among the sites that Europan Spain presented to the 15th edition was a site in Lasarte-Oria, the place that received the most proposals out of the 47 offered throughout Europe. This made the Basque Country the territory that aroused the most interest, something that was happening for the first time. In the current edition, this situation has been repeated: another Basque site is included, in Beizama, in the heart of Gipuzkoa, which has been preferred by the young teams. "This makes the Basque Country a benchmark in the panorama of innovation in architecture and urban planning at European level", emphasised the director of Housing, Land and Architecture of the Basque Government, Pablo García Astrain. 
In the previous edition, the Bilbao studio AZAB was the winner of the Spanish competition. For this reason, it has been commissioned to design the exhibition that can be seen from today in Donostia.
The exhibition, in addition to the results of the Europan 15 competition in Spain, shows the projects carried out by young prize-winning architects between the first edition of Europan in 1988 and Europan 14 through audiovisual supports. There are testimonials from people involved in the competition throughout its history, as well as a video about the theme around which the 47 sites participating in Europan 15 revolved, 'productive housing'.
300 professionals meet in the Basque Country
Between editions, Europan organises forums at European level to analyse and debate the substance of the issues raised in the light of the proposals received at each edition. This year, with the slogan 'Living Cities', it has chosen the city of Donostia as the venue, within the context of the third Mugak/ International Architecture Biennial of the Basque Country. More than 300 landscape architects, urban planners, institutional leaders and promising young European architects from 9 countries and 40 locations will gather at the Kursaal.
Today, the institutional opening was led by the Deputy Minister of Housing, Pedro Jauregui; the Director of Architecture and Urban Agenda of the Spanish Government and President of Europan Spain, Iñaqui Carnicero; the President of the Higher Council of the Official Associations of Architects of Spain, Lluís Comerón; the previous President of Europan Europe, Anna Catasta; and the new President of Europan, Manuel Blanco.
After Brussels (Belgium) in 2017 and Innsbruck (Austria) in 2019, among other locations, Europan comes to Donostia. There are reasons why the Basque Country stands out within Europan: among them, it is one of the few administrations that materialise and end up building the award-winning projects for its sites. An example of this is the first development of 160 homes in Basauri, which was completed in 1991 as a result of Europan 2, the 84 homes in Mina del Morro in Bilbao (Europan 4), completed in 2007, or the 100 productive homes of the previous edition, in Lasarte-Oria, which are currently under construction.
"Europan is a platform that connects us with the international debate on the future of architecture and in the Department of Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport of the Basque Government we are aware of this. It is also a support for housing research, a service that provides guarantees in the quality of the architectural innovation process", said the councillor Iñaki Arriola. "We are delighted that the Europan organising committee has chosen one of our cities as the venue for this forum because it is also a recognition of our commitment and collaboration with Europan to transfer, from ideas to reality, innovative housing developments that will become a reference", he added.

The Programme is being prepared