Message from the Organising Committee


       Hans De Backer                              Bert Hesselink


May 31, 2021

The Organising Committee is pleased to confirm that the IABSE Congress Ghent 2021 will be held from 22 to 24 September 2021. The Congress is organised by the Belgian and Dutch Groups of IABSE in co-operation with Ghent University.


Due to the still unpredictable situation of the Covid19 pandemic, travel bans, and fear to travel factor, the Organising Committee of the IABSE Congress Ghent 2021, on recommendation of the Administrative Committee, has decided to change the format of the Congress into an entirely virtual event for the safety of IABSE Members and Congress participants. This will allow us to move forward in full swing to prepare the event’s programme and activities early enough, avoiding confusion, frustrations and financial losses to both participants and sponsors.


This has been a very difficult decision, as we have tried our best to become the first “normal” conference after the Covid-crisis. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Still, we have to look forward and now that we have decided on a virtual event, we can start work on making this a fantastic online congress, simulating the actual conference experience as much as we can. Keep an eye on the website for updates and we hope to see you in Ghent, be it in a virtual setting.


Our apologies that we cannot offer you an onsite event yet. I do hope we can still count on your support and that you will help us in making the virtual Congress a success.


Hans De Backer, Organising Committee Chair, Belgium

Bert Hesselink, Organising Committee Vice-Chair, The Netherlands

About The Organisers

The Belgian and Dutch Groups of IABSE together with Ghent Universtiy are organising the IABSE Congress Ghent 2021. The Organising Committee (OC) is chaired by Hans de Backer and includes 10 dedicated members.




Hans De Backer

Chair Organising Committee
Ghent University
Department of Civil Engineering
Technologiepark 60
B-9052 Zwijnaarde

Organising Committee

Hans De Backer (Chair)
Bert Hesselink (Vice-Chair)
Ane de Boer
Bart De Pauw
Alain Dumortier
Bernard Espion
Pierre Mengeot
Bert Snijder
Sven Somers
Aad van der Horst
Gilles Van Staen


According to National Geographic Traveler, Ghent is “the most authentic historic city in the World“. And Lonely Planet called Ghent “Europe’s best kept secret”. The city combines an impressive past with a vivid present. You will hardly ever find such a diversity of architectural styles and treasures of which most are protected as national heritage by UNESCO.

De Crook City Library


The Congress

The IABSE Congress Ghent 2021 is a large international structural engineering conference bringing together scientists, students, designers, contractors, owners and experts from international organisations around the world. The Congress serves as an important event for stimulating industry discussion, exchange of cutting-edge knowledge and networking. IABSE’s aim as a technical society is to promote the advancement of structural engineering practice while taking into account technical, economic, environmental, aesthetic and social aspects. IABSE Congresses are annual events held each September and hosted in all parts of the world.  In recent years the number of delegates to the technical Congress has ranged between 550 and 1000.

Preliminary Programme

Congress Opening Ceremony
Keynote Speakers and parallel sessions
Online Young Engineer Event

Keynote Speakers and parallel sessions
Online Social Event

Keynote speakers and parallel sessions
Congress Closing Ceremony

Online Technical Visit and Social Event
The congress technical programme will be extended by several virtual activities. First of all, Technical Visits will be planned during the breaks. Attendees can follow a newly build project in a virtual way. In addition, a virtual young engineer activity and social activity will be organised. Keep an eye on the website for more information. 


Bird view of the city of Ghent