BAU 2021: Hybrid event to replace conventional in-person fair

BAU, the world’s leading trade fair for architecture, materials and systems, will not be held from 11 to 16 January 2021 as a conventional in-person event. This was annouced at the Messe München meeting with the Advisory Board and Board of Trustees of BAU. Instead, there will be a hybrid format from 13 to 15 January 2021, offering exhibitors the opportunity to present their innovations to a wide audience. The digital part of this event will also be an important part of the conventional in-person BAU 2023 trade fair.

In June, in agreement with both committees, Messe München had announced that the event would take place as planned in January 2021, but subject to monitoring developments and reassessing the situation at the end of September before triggering investments for trade fair participation. Dr Reinhard Pfeiffer, Deputy CEO of Messe München, commented: “With the lowering infection rates and border openings in June, there was reason to hope that the situation would improve significantly. Unfortunately, the situation has changed significantly since August. Even if an in-person event would have been possible with our protection and hygiene measures, this decision has now become necessary due to the current developments regarding new travel restrictions and the designation of risk areas throughout Europe. According to our exhibitor survey, which we have conducted over the last few days, especially against the background of the worsening COVID-19 situation, the vast majority of our exhibitors now consider their participation in the presence trade fair to be unrealistic, as in the current situation it can be assumed that only a few of the originally expected visitors will be on site.

Reinhard Pfeiffer obtained approval from Dieter Schäfer, the longstanding chairman of the BAU Advisory Board and Board of Trustees: “The decision made in June was right. At that time, it was far too soon to call BAU into question. It was clear to us all that clarification would be needed at the end of September. It therefore also made sense to carry out a survey last week. The Advisory Board and Board of Trustees back the decision to replace BAU 2021 with a hybrid format.”

A postponement of BAU was discussed with the Advisory Board and Board of Trustees. Martin Hörmann, deputy chairman of the committees, explains: “Delaying the trade fair was never a serious option for us, because it would have interrupted the two-year innovation cycle that BAU has always followed. International exhibitors and visitors are at the core of the conventional BAU. Under the current COVID-19 conditions, we would not have been able to meet these expectations.”

Hybrid format—what can exhibitors and visitors expect?

BAU 2021 will look very different compared to previous years. In addition to a compact exhibition space, the hybrid format comprises an additional digital offering for exhibitors and visitors who are unable to travel to Munich due to the travel restrictions.

Exhibitors will be able to present themselves at the ICM International Congress Center München and in around two exhibition halls, and forums and special shows will also be held there. Companies that want to present themselves on site can choose between compact system stands and an individual stand design.

In the digital part of the event, live streaming and video recordings of talks and discussions from the forums will be available for a global audience. Companies also have the opportunity to present their products virtually in their own online sessions. To get in touch and discuss with exhibitors and other visitors, the hybrid format also offers virtual networking modules. Integrating the traditional BAU info talks into the hybrid format is also being considered.

Participation options available online from October 2021

Details about the new format and information on the participation options for exhibitors and visitors are expected to be available online from mid-October at Exhibitors who had already firmly booked their stand for the conventional in-person trade fair can still present themselves on site. Others who have canceled due to coronavirus can reconsider taking part, whether digitally or on site, under the new conditions.

BAU 2023 already being prepared

In 2023, BAU will be back again as normal, complete with the additional digital offerings that will be available in January in the hybrid format for the first time. Messe München is very confident, since almost all of the prominent exhibitors who are staying away in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic have already confirmed their participation for the next event in January 2023.

Messe München’s decision has received wide support from the industry

“In light of the recent coronavirus developments, the Bavarian Chamber of Civil Engineers supports the decision of BAU to set up a hybrid format for the trade fair,” said Prof. Dr.-Ing. Norbert Gebbeken, President of the Bavarian Chamber of Civil Engineers. “If at all possible, the Bavarian Chamber of Civil Engineers plans to hold the Bavarian Engineers’ Day on January 15, 2021, with the award of the Bavarian Engineering Prize 2021, as part of the hybrid BAU. State Minister Kerstin Schreyer has already confirmed that she will attend the event. We very much hope that BAU 2023 will be able to take place once again as an in-person event, as there is no substitute for personal contact especially at a trade fair.”

Felix Pakleppa, Chief Executive of the Central Association of the German Construction Industry, said “We support the decision to not hold BAU 2021 as an in-person event but rather in a hybrid format, since the rates of infection are soaring not only in Germany but across the whole of Europe. We take our responsibility for the health of exhibitors and visitors very seriously. At the same time, we also look forward to BAU reopening its doors in 2023 and being able to be there for it.”

“Unfortunately, we must face facts. Due to the coronavirus developments, it is not possible to successfully hold the trade fair on the normal scale and with the same positive mood as in previous years. At the same time, I am nevertheless convinced that we will be able to continue the success story of BAU, and BauIT in particular, with BAU 2023. In the meantime, we will support Messe München’s creative ideas and concepts as an alternative to the absent platform. We are already looking forward to the digitalBAU trade fair in Cologne in February 2022, organized by Messe München,” commented Johannes Reischböck, Managing Director of BIMobject Deutschland GmbH. 

Dr Thomas Welter, Managing Director of the Association of German Architects (BDA), also showed his support. “The appointed freelance architects in the Association of German Architects want attractive trade fair locations where they can share ideas, learn, and experience new products and developments. The cancellation of BAU 2021 is very painful, but the Association of German Architects is looking forward to alternative digital formats and getting together again at digitalBAU 2022 and BAU 2023. The growing offer of digital formats for BAU is a good development. Nevertheless, BAU as a platform for personal encounters and physically experiencing products will still be necessary in the long term.”