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A cross-border city lowers barriers

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A Swiss city that is closed in on two sides by Germany and France shows its efforts to do away with borders (SRF/swissinfo.ch/cp)

The underlying theme of the Basel 2020 International Building Exhibition, “Growing together across borders”, is inspired by the particular location of Switzerland’s third-most-populous city.

Basel City, a canton in itself covering 27 kilometres (17 miles), shares more of its borders with neighbouring countries Germany and France than it does with the rest of Switzerland.

The Swiss Federal Statistical Office estimates that 55,000 people a day cross the borders with France and Germany to work in the cantons of Basel City and Basel Country.

The International Building Exhibitions, or IBAs (Internationale Bauausstellung), represent temporary urban development initiatives that spring from more than a century of tradition and are deeply ingrained into German city-planning culture. Through the years they have evolved from mainly building exhibitions into testing grounds for flexible, cooperative urban development platforms.

The first IBA took place in 1901 in the German city of Darmstadt while Basel’s IBA started in 2010 and is set to end in 2020.