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IaaC Research - Students Research -

Emergent Territories 2012-2013: Radical Region


Assistant: MAITE BRAVO

Guest Tutor: Peter Trummer

What constitutes a radical region? Which design strategies will redefine cities as hybrid terrains embracing the whole built environment, merging traditional boundaries existing between architecture, urbanism, landscape and infrastructure? Can site specific environments be formulated through associative design strategies to increase the relevance of architecture at an urban scale? Could dislocated territories be repositioned as hybrid terrains offering unexpected relationships and fields of experimentation?

Within a highly experimental framework, this studio seeks to radicalize the discourse around the role of architecture as a subversive strategy to redefine the role of segregated territories and ageing infrastructures at the urban scale. The objective is to work with concepts around means of connectedness at a territorial scale,

emphasizing aspects of mobility, infrastructure, environmental strategies, placemaking, energy efficiency and landscape terrains.

Within the regional area of Barcelona, the Besós represents one of the main rivers crossing the regional area of Catalunya, flowing 40 km from the interior to the Mediterranean Sea. Once a productive ecosystem on the outskirts of Barcelona, the intense rate of urbanization in the Regional Area has placed enormous pressure to the Besós Area in terms of pollution, mobility, ecology, to the point of the river currently it appears not only crossing, but severely segregating the territory. However, in recent years the lower Besós underwent an “environmental recovery” with a water treatment plan, and the purification of polluted areas along the river.

Despite all these efforts, the Besós it’s today a complex segregated and fragmented territory, presenting complex problems, such as acute crime and social heterogeneity, diverse morphologies of grids and meshes colliding, a multiplicity of uses, and complex mobility networks.

The area offers distinct zones, such as the Forum, La Mina, or Collserolla Park, and it’s currently agglomerating 4 Municipalities, making it an excellent testing ground for the study of new ideas, models, strategies and radical transformations.

The studio will develop tools for analysis, diagnosis and strategies at a territorial scale, to later formulate proposals on specific points. Students will identify and explore diverse scales, from urban formations to the definition of singularities such as buildings, units, or components that may create new conditions of urbanity for the 21st century.

Therefore, students will work at an urban, building, and a smaller scale, to finally develop physical prototypes of components.

Directed by a some of the most radicals voices of our generation: Hernan Alonso(SciArc LA), Willy Muller (Iaac Bcn) and Peter Trummer (Innsbruck, Austria), this studio will be held concurrently with students from SciARc.

Self Sufficient Building 2012-2013

Faculty: Enric Ruiz Geli, Mireia Luzàrraga


Nowadays, architecture causes 40% of the CO2 emissions and it is one of the main causes of the global warming. Our aim is, following the ideas of Jeremy Rifkin, to turn this number around and project buildings as power plants, smart buildings that will provide use with the energy we need, and be an activists of the Third Industrial Revolution.

In orther to achieve this we will follow the thesys of bringing nature to the cities. We will study natural behaviours in order to be more efficient in terms of energy saving, and apply them to our buildings.

We will bring fauna and vegetation to the cities in order to have a better standard of living and to reduce CO2 emissions and our echological footprint.

Our projects will be placed in two different urban voids in Barcelona, one of them in the seashore, and another one in Poblenou.

We will work on them as socialactivists, we will regenerate the areas by introducing mixed use programs, and by implementing urban agriculture to the district.

At the same time, we will be travelling to the most beautiful and biodiverse Natural Reserves in Europe, and bringing all the knowledge we aquire to the city (Timanfaya, Urdaibai and Cap de Creus). By travelling to these privileged areas, we will be concerned about our fragil balance in the world, and have Environmental Energy Experiences towards Empathy (EEE towards E).

Back in the studio we will translate and blend all these environments to particles. Particles make no distinction between objects and products, buildings and landscape, sea and mountain, but understands reality, and therefore the architectural project, as performing particles, thus entering into an empathetic understanding of a society in which human beings and

Nature speak a common language, that of Particles Architecture.

The natural environment for working with particles surpasses proprietary software, and introduces environments that are more generic. They are managed by the use of free programming environments (Processing) through intelligent behaviour over time, thus progressing from the exterior morphology of the project to the performance of its parts or internal composition.

Digital Tectonics 2012 - 2013: Fabrication Ecologies

Faculty: Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto 

‘Social ecosophy will consist in developing specific practices that will modify and reinvent the ways in which we live as couples or in the family, in an urban context or at work, etc [...] Instead of clinging to general recommendations we would be implementing effective practices of experimentation, as much on a micro social level as on a larger institutional scale. ’

GUATTARI, F. The Three Ecologies. Continuum, London 2000.

The Fabrication Ecologies Research Studio embraces a radical attitude towards digital fabrication by experimenting new eco-systemic fabrication protocols; our core ambition is to embed the mechanisms of digital fabrication within specific design milieu, manufacture related 1:1 design prototypes and trigger the emergence of speculative architectural scenarios.

Within this design framework digital fabrication expands beyond the technical domain and becomes an instrument of polemic that can be tuned to contribute to a wider debate; in particular the studio discusses the role of digital design technology in:

-supporting the transition from a system of mass production to one of mass customization

-engaging contemporary environmental concerns

-defining the emergence of a new socio-economic figure, the digital craftsmen.

The studio’s disciplinary contribution is articulated through:

-the parallel advancement of both technical and cultural paradigms of digital fabrication in architecture.

-the invention of new digital fabrication techniques involving an innovative use of programmable robots.

-the development of new 1:1 scale architectural prototypes and related design scenarios.

This year our material research focuses on natural fibrous systems; in particular we will start form hemp, which in the 20th century has been the extraordinary protagonist of a controversial industrial war. Once the most diffused material in the world, in the early ‘30s hemp became the key competitor of the growing petrochemical industry, which then took control of the market until today; the studio will plot a surprise comeback by inventing new hemp based components and related fabrication protocols.

Our design method includes several steps from the initial creation of a “hemp garden”, to experiments in material self-organisation, digital simulation and robotic fabrication; each step is supported by dedicated seminars and design workshops. In the 3rd term each group of students is required to manufacture a 1:1 architectural component and describe a related design scenario.


Introductory Studio 2012-13



By Nuri Choi, Zeynep Birgunol, Elif Gongur, Roopa Sharma, and Youssef Hassan Rashdan.

The approach of the project focuses in a behavioral and sociological transformation; throughout a series of one-on-one surveys and live experiments, data was extracted from users to map out .activities and behaviors.

The thesis was based on how to provide the users with tools to reach their needs, how to design mechanisms to let the user choose rather than imposing a solution.

The current state of the street is a static place filled with readymade elements. If every user had the choice to create their own need the street would become a dynamic pulsating mesh of activities, a self-made street.

OTF 2012 - Mataerial: Petr Novikov & Saša Jokić + IAAC + Joris Laarman Studio

MATAERIAL – a brand new method of additive manufacturing. This patent-pending method allows for creating 3D objects on any given working surface independently of its inclination and smoothness, and without a need of additional support structures. Conventional methods of additive manufacturing have been affected both by gravity and printing environment: creation of 3D objects on irregular, or non-horizontal surfaces has so far been treated as impossible . By using innovative extrusion technology we are now able to neutralize the effect of gravity during the course of the printing process. This method gives us a flexibility to create truly natural objects by making 3D curves instead of 2D layers. Unlike 2D layers that are ignorant to the structure of the object, the 3D curves can follow exact stress lines of a custom shape. Finally, our new out of the box printing method can help manufacture structures of almost any size and shape.

MATAERIAL is the result of the collaborative research between Petr Novikov, Saša Jokić from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) and Joris Laarman Studio. IAAC tutors representing Open Thesis Fabrication Program provided their advice and professional expertise. During the course of the research we developed a brand new digital fabrication method and a working prototype that can open a door to a number of practical applications. The method that we call Anti·gravity Object Modeling has a patent-pending status.

Emergent Territories 2011 - 2012: Urban Metabolisms - From Data to Architecture

Faculty:  Willy Müller, Maite Bravo
Technical Experts: Alex Posada, Luis Fraguada, Edouard Cabay, David Dalmazzo

The scale, complexity and relevance of problems affecting contemporary cities of the 21st century are bringing forward new levels of urban interventions that arguably constitute the most significant design agenda for architects of this century. Within this context, the territory of architecture could be redefined as a hybrid terrain embracing the whole built environment, merging the traditional boundaries existing between the disciplines of architecture, urbanism, landscape and infrastructure.

Emerging design agendas today are able to explore the symbiotic relationship between buildings and the urban environments they in-form based on fields of fluctuating data, developing morphologies capable of adapting to real time information. This studio brings forward fundamental concepts related to the importance to propose symbiotic systems of organization based on real time data, that can be further articulated into responsive systems and metabolic organizations, where small decisions can have a large impact at urban scale. The need to investigate the capacity of the city to interact, give and receive information and invent new devices capable of monitoring in real time what is happening in the city in terms of traffic, waste, CO2 emissions, and energy use, it’s being investigated by a science that combines urbanism and robotics: Urbiotica. The fluctuating data collected thru sensors provide detailed information of minimums and maximums, instead of the traditional rigid design approach based on averages. This information may be used to design adaptive systems able to create a relationship between programmatic, formal, spatial, and structural decisions.

According to these parameters, projects will be developed on a varied urban scale, from large interventions to intelligent buildings to small devices or components that may create new conditions of urbanity for the 21st century. Students will identify and explore diverse scales, from urban formations to the definition of singularities such as buildings, houses, or components. Therefore, students may decide to work at an urban scale, or maybe at a building scale, or perhaps into a smaller component scale.

Emergent Territories 2011 - 2012 Projects Archive

Self Sufficient Building 2011 - 2012

Facuty: Javier Peña and Rodrigo Rubio
Assistant: Oriol Carrasco
Technical Experts: Guillem Camprodon, Spyros Stravoravdis, Luis Fraguada

The self-sufficient buildings and blocks are the new paradigm for the cities construction. In Europe they will be mandatory from 2020. But for constructing buildings and blocks that are self sufficient we have to create new methods of architectural thinking in which the (metabolism) of the buildings (production and management of matter and energy cycles, water and waste, information, etc) is designed in a form that is intergraded with the natural structure and their function.

The objective of the Self-Sufficient Buildings Studio is to develop autonomous buildings, self-sufficient structures at a block scale following this metabolic idea. From the big numbers of the block energy balance until the small scale of the domestic strategies.

Each team will choose a different environmental research-line (higrothermics, geothermics, windflows or sunlight cycles) and a different BCN block to generate a network of specialized case-studies. Blocks will be chosen out of the 22@ neighborhood, area that is already in a process of transformation, so that we could work in real cases, both functionally and environmentally. We will develop a prototypes catalog of urban re-generation for dense cities.

Self Sufficient Building 2011 - 2012 Project Archive

Digital Tectonics 2011 - 2012: Fab Bots 3.0


Faculty: Marta Malé-Alemany
Assistant: Jordi Portell,Miquel Lloveras
Technical Experts: Santiago Martin, Guillem Camprodon, Santiago Martín González

Continuing on the research from the past two editions, the Digital Tectonics Research Studio 2011-12 will investigate the workflow between computational design and material production methods, exploring the relationship between design inputs and computer programmable devices that can be used for the production of building structures and/or components. Challenging the traditional norms of linear file-to factory production processes, the studio will study the potentials of linking the programming of specific material formations and machinic behaviour in real time, exploring the generative design opportunities that may emerge from this convergence.

With support tutorials and exercises focusing on the creation of custom-designed innovative hardware devices that incorporate sensory inputs and stepper motor control, the studio aims to propose alternatives to existing methods of digital fabrication to be deployed on-site. As these fabrication devices will enable a direct response to sensory inputs, systems of behavioral rules can be considered to influence the method of creating building elements or structures. Rather than scripting geometrical patterns of formation as in traditional uses of digital fabrication, behavioral rule systems can be used to direct machinic fabrication towards certain performance criteria scenarios, thus generating emergent material configurations that are not guided from a pre-conceived design. Using a setup consisting of design scripts, machine programming, a custom designed fabrication device and specific method of material formation, students teams will choreograph the creation of material structures that demonstrate that their formation has been influenced by external inputs like sound, light, temperature etc.

The studio research will focus on how locality allows for hyper-specific outcomes, as the variables of the specific context (temperature, solar exposure, prevailing winds, etc.) are simultaneously embedded and recorded in the material result. Considering that the production processes are dependent on external factors on site, recorded data will be physically translated and materialized in outcomes that contain both programmed design intentions and information from the environment. As such, material formations will be emergent and ‘harvested’ from the context. Moreover, the studio will emphasize the global preoccupation with dwindling energy resources, by encouraging formation methods and devices that can employ local materials and be powered by renewable sources of energy.

(Fab)Bots 3.0 Projects Archive

Fab Academy 2011 Project: Data Tree_Sensor Bricks

Fab Academy 2011 Project: Data Tree_Sensor Bricks
Areti Markopoulou

This Fab Academy project was created for implementation at Can Valldaura, the site of the future Green Fab Lab, located in Collserola Park just outside of Barcelona.

The project features artificial fruit that cling to trees containing sensors that monitor moisture, light, and temperature as well as smoke detectors. The fruit sends data wirelessly, via a radio frequency antenna, to a data processing apparatus at the Can Valldaura house. From here the data is uploaded and processed in Pachube which gives a real-time visualization of the environmental conditions around each tree in relation to time and position.

This test data can be found on the Green Fab Lab website.

More information about the entire production process can be found here.

This is open source project. All information from the project (files, materials, programming codes, circuit sensor boards) can be found and downloaded here.

Emergent Territories 2010 - 2011

Faculty: Willy Müller
Maite Bravo
Guest Tutors:

Michel Rojkind, Architect, Rojkind Architects, Agent,México
Alberto Villareal, Designer, Agent, México
Antoni Brey, Engineer, General Director, Urbiótica
Luki Huber, Industrial designer

During this studio we will be working on large infrastructure areas in Barcelona called ´Rondas´, a network of mobility and its surroundings, consisting of different large scale projects. In these we will investigate the relation between the programmatic decisions, both formal and spatial as well as structural, in relation to their capacity to interact, give and receive information and the need to invent new devices.

Devices that become part of the urban design and are capable of monitoring in real time what is happening in the city as far as waste, CO2 emissions, traffic, and energy use are considered. In these areas of mobility is where the major logistic concentrations such as the airport, the Zona Franca, the new and old port , the Olympic port, the beaches, the Marine Zoo and the Forum are found; all the large urban scenes of Barcelona in the last years. Nevertheless it is exactly there where we will be able to investigate and regenerate a ´re-informed city´, introducing new concepts of design that could bring in ´small intelligence actions´ capable of acting in three main concepts of a city of zero emissions:

- what the city spends
- what the city saves on
- what the city produces

According to these parameters we will try to develop projects on a varied urban scale, from small devices and street furniture to intelligent buildings and big interventions that intend to create new conditions of urbanity for the 21st century.