of MBA in Kraków

The MBA is a cyclical event, taking place in Kraków since 1985. Each edition was a truly special forum for exchanging ideas and experiences amongst architects from around the world. The accompanying competitions, exhibitions, presentations and lectures are a unique attraction in this part of Europe for all those involved in architecture.

During the previous MBAs, the organised competitions were an opportunity to emerge also in the media space, valuable both for beginners and experienced architects from around the world. The projects were judged by prominent personalities such as Wojciech Leśnikowski, Pekka Salminen, Julia Bolles, Peter Wilson, Francesco Purini, Eckhard Feddersen, Günter Schuss, Hildebrand Machleidt, Armando dal Fabbro and Peter Cook. Previously, honorary guests of the exhibitions and seminars were Frei Otto, architects Herzog & de Meuron, Zvi Hecker, David Mackay, Dietmar Eberle, Peter Butenschøn, Claudio Nardi, Giovanni Multari, Viviana Muscettola, Andor Wesselényi-Garray and Rainer Mahlamäki. Winning entries have gained international publicity and have been documented in the MBA publication.

The uniqueness of this cultural event is also connected to its location. Kraków is a city recognised all over Europe. This success is owed mostly to the historical heritage, the most important part of which is architecture. In this very city there is a constant rivalry of the old with the new, historic with the contemporary, conservative with avant-garde. Architectural discussion seems to be inscribed in the essence of the city itself.

Since 2015, the MBA has been included in the regular calendar of events organised by the Municipality of Kraków. The MBA 2015 under the motto “Human dimension of urban spaces” has been a spectacular success, whereby the  MBA Kraków 2017 whose title was “Backyard – field o imagination” has proven that one should continue and develop that systematic dialogue, opening it for new recipients. That last Biennale has also shown that the then introduced multimedia competition  is an important platform, which was proven by the Biennale Grand Prix, the first that was won by a film: “The Cracovian art of chaos”. The winners were  Janusz Bartkowicz and Marcin Koszałka.

The possibility to continue a long tradition of debate, engaging the local community in the current problems of contemporary architecture is also an opportunity to sensitise our city to the challenges of creating a friendly, developed urban environment. Continuation of the tradition of the International Biennale of Architecture is an arena of interdisciplinary activity of creative circles, influencing the level of architectural culture in Poland, popularising Polish architecture abroad and gaining experience from the achievements of other countries’.


In the 1970s American urbanist and journalist William H. Whyte, working at the New York City Planning Commission, conducted a study of human behaviour in urbanised areas, inspiring many of his successors. These observations have been used to develop an analysis of the human behaviour and dynamics of the city, entitled “Street Life Project”. Under the influence of Whyte’s thoughts, research and work, a movement called Placemaking emerged.
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Professor Jan Gehl, a world recognised expert in making the urban spaces more human-friendly, strongly believes that improvement of overall quality of life in the cities is derived from the appearance of their public spaces. For it is in the public spaces that people actually do meet up "to exchange ideas, trade or simply relax. The public area of the city - streets, squares and parks - is both a stage and a catalyst for these activities" (Jan Gehl).
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