The twenty-first UIA Congress, on the theme, Resource Architecture, was held on July 22 - 26, 2002, in Berlin, Germany.
The official opening of the Congress took place on July 22nd, in the presence of Gerhard Schröder, Chancellor of the German Federal Republic, Kurt Bodewig, German Minister of Construction, Peter Strieder, Senator of Berlin, Kaspar Kraemer, BDA President, Peter Conradi, BAK President, Andreas Hempel, President of the Congress, and Vassilis Sgoutas, UIA President, who concluded his welcome address in these terms:
The challenge that we are facing is clearly this : Can we as a profession lead society towards what we believe should be the architectural, urban, social, and environmental status quo of the future?
We believe that we can, and that the UIA and the UIA Berlin Congress, with the contributions of all, will successfully respond to this challenge.
The world awaits a message from Berlin. Let us show to all that architects care, that architects can make a difference, and that through quality architecture we can strive for a better tomorrow for the world.
Close to 6000 architects, urban planners, and other specialists - architectural critics, journalists, and government officials - participated in the Congress, which took place in the Berlin International Congress Centrum (ICC) and the Postbahnhof. Foreign participation in the Congress represented approximately 58% of attendance, with a particularly important participation by congressists from Brazil, China, France, Greece, and Russia.
To guide the debates on the different aspects of the theme Resource Architecture, the Scientific Committee to the Congress, under the direction of Karl Ganser, published a list of ten key questions, in order to bring to the forefront the necessity to search for solutions and continually test the responses that can be provided. These questions concerned the issue of sustainability, architects' ability to counter the logic of "disposability", respect for cultural heritage, and the relationship to history and regional identity.
Karl Ganser appealed to congress attendees:
Everything we build should be gently returned into the cycle of nature … (as architects) Let's stop making excuses because of material constraints. Let's do some straight talking about the real conflicts.
In parallel to the forty-five plenary sessions, forums, workshops, and project reports, other events were also largely appreciated, in particular the exhibitions and the product trade-fair PlanCom, organised within the ICC complex.
The large participation by students of architecture in the confrontation of projects that was proposed to them, concerning the urban plans for the “Berlin-Heidestrasse” district, should also be spotlighted. Five hundred and forty-four projects were submitted from 67 different countries. In addition, an exhibition of innovative projects and realisations displayed solutions developed by 43 of the UIA Member Sections, and 265 selected participants.
Eminent personalities from the political world expressed their ideas on the Congress theme, in particular Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), as well as internationally renown architects such as : Sir Norman Foster, Kisho Kurokawa, Peter Eisenman, Shigero Ban, Rasem Badran, Dietmar Eberle, and Helmut Jahn.
The UIA 2002 Gold Medal and Prizes were also presented to their recipients at an awards ceremony at the Berlin Postbahnhof.
Andreas Hempel, President of the Congress, stated in conclusion :
We hoped to offer to participants a large variety of possibilities, in terms of content and presentation, and we attained this goal. Our objective was to propose innovative contributions, oriented towards the future, as well as projects by young architects and collaborators specialised in other disciplines.