The UIA was founded on 28 June 1948 in Lausanne, Switzerland, following the merger of the Comité permanent international des Architectes and the Réunion International des Architectes. Its headquarters is located in Paris. The organisation is recognised as the only global architecture organisation by most United Nations agencies, including UNESCO, UNCHS, ESOSOC, UNIDO and the World Health Organization as well as the WTO. The current (2023-2026) president is Regina Gonthier from Switzerland.
Through its Member Sections, the UIA is represented in over 100 countries and territories, geographically grouped into five regions:
- Region I: Western Europe
- Region II: Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East
- Region III: The Americas
- Region IV: Asia and Oceania
- Region V: Africa
The governing bodies of the UIA are:
- The Assembly: the supreme body of the UIA composed of delegates from UIA Member Sections in addition to Council members.
- Council: between meetings of the Assembly, the Council is responsible for managing and directing the affairs of the Union. It is composed of 4 elected members from each of the UIA’s five regions in addition to the Bureau members.
- Bureau: composed of the President, the Immediate Past President, the Secretary General, the Treasurer, and a Vice-President from each Region
World Congress of Architects
UIA Congresses are organised by a host UIA Member Section. Congress bids are submitted to the UIA General Assembly and selected by vote six years in advance of the event.
The UIA World Congresses are key events for professional and cultural exchange among all the world’s architects, bringing together thousands of participants from around the globe. Each event focuses on a different architecture-related theme, developed by eminent personalities from the international architectural, planning and construction fields. Debates, exhibitions, tours and networking events make the UIA Congresses the perfect meeting place for experts, colleagues, friends, and students of architecture.
World Capital of Architecture
In 2017, the UIA adopted a resolution to formally request that UNESCO be associated with its initiative to designate the next UIA World Congress host city as the World Capital of Architecture.
UNESCO and UIA agreed to prepare a 10-year plan of action covering the period 2017-2027 and including the designation to the 2020, 2023 and 2026 World Capitals of Architecture. UNESCO’s participation in the nomination of the UIA World Congress host cities as World Capitals of Architecture represents the natural continuation of this longstanding partnership.
How is the World Capital of Architecture chosen?
The UIA holds the World Congress of Architects every three years, organised by a UIA Member Section in the city elected to host it. As a matter of custom, the UIA General Assembly elects the host city six years in advance. The UIA World Congress now ties directly with the UNESCO-UIA World Capital of Architecture programme. The main World Congress theme and programme should be complementary to and compatible with the one-year programme of the World Capital of Architecture.
After receiving the candidacies of the cities to host and organise the UIA World Congress and General Assembly, a joint UNESCO-UIA committee preselects a maximum of three cities, one of which will subsequently be designated as the World Capital of Architecture for a period of one year.
The joint committee is be composed of an equal number of members from each institution, as well as an independent architect appointed by mutual agreement. Committee members cannot have any affiliation with the candidate cities.
At its General Assembly, the UIA chooses a host city for the next World Congress and General Assembly from among these preselected cities. The Director-General of UNESCO formally announces the elected city as the World Capital of Architecture.
The UIA holds interim Forums approximately mid-way between the triennial UIA World Congresses.
The first such event was the UIA 2019 International Forum. It was held on 7-11 June 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan along with the UIA 137th Council meeting and the Extraordinary General Assembly. With the theme “Mass Tourism in Historic Cities”, the Forum sought to address this problem and discuss ways in which architects and other actors can help develop a greater harmony between towns and tourists.
The 2022 International Forum will take place in 2022 in Madrid, Spain with the theme Removing barriers to affordable housing.
World Architecture Day
Created by the International Union of Architects (UIA) in 1985, World Architecture Day is celebrated on the first Monday of October in parallel with UN World Habitat Day. By choosing a different theme each year, this world day seeks to draw the attention of professionals as well as the public to problems concerning cities and habitat.
More about World Architecture Day