BAU 2009: Vote of confidence in the building industry

BAU 2009 attracted 211,000 visitors, which is yet another new record for the event and also a tremendous vote of confidence in the sector for the year of business to come.

In the exhibition halls there was very little sign of the financial and economic crisis – this was the almost unanimous view of the exhibitors. “Nobody is complaining, instead they are all looking firmly towards the future.” 


 - Exhibitors: No sign of a mood of crisis

 - Strong international participation: over 36,000 visitors from abroad

 - 151 countries represented – even more than in 2007

 - Top themes were energy efficiency and sustainability

The visitors came from all over the world, 36,000 of them from 151 countries outside Germany. On the fourth and fifth days of the fair in particular the halls were thronged with visitors, the stands were packed full and the corridors and gangways crowded. Many of the exhibitors reported a veritable rush of visitors to their stands: “We were virtually overrun with visitors.” 2009 has turned out to be the best year ever in BAU’s over 40-year history.


1,924 exhibitors from 42 countries took part in this six-day event, which is Europe’s most important trade fair for architecture, materials and systems. Well ahead of the fair – one whole year before it started – the 180,000 m2 of space earmarked for the event was virtually fully booked. Undeterred by the mood of crisis in other sectors, more and more visitors came along each day to the New Munich Trade Fair Centre to find out about the innovations and further developments in the building sector. The visitors came from all areas of planning, design and construction – planners, architects and construction engineers were among them, as well as building entrepreneurs, building tradesmen and -women, building retailers and representatives of the housing industry. “We had a wide diversity of visitors coming along to our stand – from Bavarian joiners to Turkish construction engineers,” said Ludger Dederich, Head of Timber Construction Consultancy at the Holzabsatzfonds (German Timber Promotion Fund).


Most of the visitors came from Germany, followed by Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Russia, Poland, Iran, France and Turkey. Attendance by visitors from outside Europe, from countries such as China and Japan, was also above-average – which is a clear indication of BAU’s elevated status even outside Europe. International participation was again high: over 36,000 visitors came from countries outside Germany. Commenting on this, Guido Wortmeier, authorised agent of Eduard Hueck GmbH, said: “Among the visitors that came to our stand was a high proportion of people from abroad, in particular we talked to lots of Russians.” A similar comment came from Ivo Schintz, Managing Director of Tarkett: “We were able to welcome even more international guests than in 2007, in particular from Eastern Europe.”


Full exhibition halls, a positive atmosphere, a mood of confidence and intensive business talks at the superbly designed stands – that was the picture throughout the exhibition centre. “BAU has shown that our sector is refusing to be discouraged by the economic crisis,” declared Dieter Schäfer, Chairman of the Advisory Board of BAU, speaking on behalf of many of his colleagues. “The exhibiting companies are entering the new year with a great deal of optimism.” With regard to the record results for this year’s fair, Dr Reinhard Pfeiffer, Managing Director of Messe München GmbH, also delivered a highly positive resumé of the event: “The trade fair surpassed even our high expectations. The tremendous effort which many of the exhibitors put into presenting their products at the fair shows very clearly that BAU is regarded as the absolute number one event in the sector, not only in Germany, but throughout Europe and beyond. In view of the gloomy economic forecasts, it was by no means certain that we would top the visitor record achieved in 2007. So, the result achieved this year is to be rated even more highly.”


The positive statements by the exhibitors were also reflected in the results of a survey carried out by market researchers TNS Infratest. This showed that 89% of the exhibitors at the fair regarded BAU as the leading fair in the sector, with 94% giving it a rating of “excellent to good”. Exhibitors also gave an even higher rating this year, as compared to 2007, to the quality of visitors at the event and the international spread reflected among them. For each of the factors of “paving the way for new business” and “laying the groundwork for follow-on orders”, over 80% of the exhibitors said they had been successful. The logical consequence of this is that 96% of the exhibitors stated they would be taking part in BAU again in two years time.


The views expressed by the exhibitors were largely reflected in the results of a survey of visitors, also conducted by TNS Infratest. Almost all the visitors – or 96% – were trade visitors. 88% described themselves as “decision-makers”, around 38,000 came from architectural practices, design and engineering offices. BAU’s reputation among the visitors has risen once again. Almost all the visitors – or precisely 96% – rated the fair as “excellent to good”. They particularly liked the depth and breadth of the range on show, the presence of market leaders, the clear layout of the exhibition and the international spread among the exhibitors. The ratings given in these categories surpassed the already high level achieved at BAU 2007. BAU’s status as the leading trade fair in its sector was undisputed, as virtually all of the visitors agreed. When it came to the aim of looking for new products and innovations, almost all the visitors said they had been successful. Also, over 90% of the visitors stated that they had successfully achieved their other aims of enhancing customer relations and obtaining general orientation in the market.


Alongside the tours of BAU 2009 arranged for architects, there were also tours specially for representatives of the housing industry and for building tradesmen and -women. Each tour lasted around two-and-a-half hours, which gave the participants plenty of time to find out about products related specifically to their interests.


BAU was officially opened, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, by Wolfgang Tiefensee, Germany’s Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, and Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the European Commission. The building industry, said Tiefensee, could play a strong part in counteracting the impending economic downturn. He also affirmed that the sector could rely on support from the government in the new package of economic measures.


The ‘Future of Building’ and ‘MacroArchitecture’ Forums proved to be real magnets for the visitors. In particular the ‘Future of Building’ Forum at times resembled an overfilled lecture hall at university, with the audience hanging on every word of the speaker. Leading international architects such as Volkwin Marg, Stefan Behnisch, Michael Zimmermann, Eckhard Gerber and Françoise Hélène Jourda gave lectures here on themes that included ‘Mega cities,’ ‘Energy and architecture,’ ‘Living today and tomorrow’.


Outstanding themes at BAU were energy-efficient and sustainable building. A congress on these themes, entitled ‘Sustainable and energy-efficient building for the future’, organised by the German Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs (BMVBS), attracted 1,200 participants. Corresponding certificates were awarded for the first time by the BMVBS and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für nachhaltiges Bauen (DGNB – German Association for Sustainable Building). At the exhibitors’stands, too, attention focused in talks with visitors on how to save energy, meet the requirements of the statutory energy-efficiency regulations (EnEV) and make a contribution to protecting the environment. “Two years ago protecting the climate was still very much an issue restricted to Germany, but now it is of international concern. Demand for energy-efficient products is increasing all the time,” said Thomas Lauritzen, Head of Corporate Coordination at Schüco. Other key themes at BAU were Universal Design and Renovation & Modernisation. Both themes were explored not only in the specific product presentations by exhibitors, but also in dedicated displays within BAU. “At BAU 2011, too, the subjects of energy efficiency and renovation and modernisation will continue to play an outstanding role,” announced Markus Geisenberger, Exhibition Director of BAU.


BAU also hosted a range of award ceremonies, among them the renowned architectural award for ‘Aesthetics and Construction’, in cooperation with the trade journal DETAIL, and the 1:1 Award for ‘The First House’, in cooperation with the trade journal Bauwelt. Also awarded at the fair were:


 - German Façades Prize 2009

 - Award for Product Innovations – “Praxis Altbau”

 - Built on IT – Construction Professions with a Future’ Award

 - Bavarian Engineers Prize

 - Innovations Award ‘Architecture and Construction’

 - Building retail award, the ‘Baustoffmarkt Oskar’

 - ArchiBAU Awards 

Another finding in the visitor survey conducted by TNS Infratest relates to sentiment about future development in the sector. This year, as opposed to 2007, when business was starting to take off, the level of optimism has been dampened. In 2007 only 9% of the visitors surveyed believed that the situation in the economy would worsen, now this figure is over 24%. A similar picture emerged in the exhibitors survey. In 2007, when things were picking up, 57% believed that the situation would continue to improve. This time, only 22% of the exhibitors expressed this opinion, while roughly the same percentage believe that things will tend to get worse. Thus the optimistic mood evidenced at BAU is tempered by a feeling of uncertainty that is shared by many. Nevertheless 96% of the visitors to BAU 2009 expressed their intention to return again in two years time.

BAU 2011 takes place from 17 to 22 January 2011 at the New Munich Exhibition Centre.

600450 BAU 2009: Vote of confidence in the building industry

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