On pedagogical prototyping of advanced ecological buildings and biocities at Valldaura Labs

  • Daniel Ibañez Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia - IAAC (Spain)
  • Vicente Guallart Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia - IAAC (Spain)
  • Michael Salka University of Cambridge (UK)
Keywords: pedagogical prototyping, living labs, immersive education, nature-based solutions, circular bioeconomy


Emerging designers and makers of the built environment have an outstanding responsibility and potential to mitigate and adapt to global climate change, environmental pollution, biodiversity loss, and resource depletion. This paper overviews how the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia – Valldaura Labs (VL) educates incipient practitioners in interdisciplinary strategies for unifying the constructed and natural worlds through pedagogical prototyping and learning by living. VL is a living lab sited 10 km from Barcelona’s centre in the Collserola Natural Park, hosting the immersive Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings & Biocities (MAEBB), which culminates in the annual autonomous design and fabrication of a self-sufficient building. The methods and projects of VL provide best practices of reference for realising holistically integrated ecological and technological landscapes.

Author Biographies

Daniel Ibañez, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia - IAAC (Spain)

Architect and Urbanist, he is a Doctor of Design and the Director of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) where he is the co-Director of the Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities and Director of the Master of Mass Timber Design at IAAC Barcelona (Spain). Since 2017, he is a Senior Urban Consultant at the World Bank advising international governments and institutions on timber housing and timber urban development.
E-mail: dani@iaac.net

Vicente Guallart, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia - IAAC (Spain)

Architect, Urbanist and Chief Architect of the Barcelona City Council from 2011 to 2015, he is the co-Director of the Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities at IAAC Barcelona (Spain) and Co-Founder of IAAC. He also directs a professional office, Guallart Architects, developing widely published projects of several scales around the world.
E-mail: vicenteguallart@gmail.com

Michael Salka, University of Cambridge (UK)

Architect and Urbanist, he is a Gates Cambridge PhD Candidate and Technical Director of Valldaura Labs at IAAC Barcelona (Spain) from 2019 to 2021. His research activity is focused on the use of big data and advanced digital technologies in the field of environmental sustainability and, in particular, nature-based solutions applied to the construction sector.
E-mail: ms2508@cam.ac.uk


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The Niu Haus/EcoHouse V01, 2019 (credit: Valldura Labs) – AGATHÓN 11_2022
How to Cite
Ibañez, D., Guallart, V. and Salka, M. (2022) “On pedagogical prototyping of advanced ecological buildings and biocities at Valldaura Labs”, AGATHÓN | International Journal of Architecture, Art and Design, 11(online), pp. 136-149. doi: 10.19229/2464-9309/11122022.
Architecture | Essays & Viewpoint
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