When we think on the question of ecology and how it affects the structure of buildings, we like to be inspired by the pioneers of the discipline. Humboldt, Haeckel, Lovelock and others envisioned the Earth as a huge living organism where organic and inorganic matter were all connected. It is this all-inclusive approach to nature as a network of relationships where we want to build upon.

Thus, we assume that structures are not a separate problem of the building. Structures are not only governed by the laws of physics, either, but they are intimately related with living creatures as to form a whole organism. If in the early 20th Century modernists had to redefine the formal vocabulary and syntax of architecture, then we believe the task of our time is to redesign the roles and relationships of the built environment. Therefore, structure for us is not only a matter of solving the load-bearing requirements of the building with the minimum amount of matter. It is not only an issue of addressing global agendas by choosing the proper materials (carbon footprint, material life cycles, etc.). Structures belong to a complex ecosystem that should be addressed from a holistic and relational point of view.

This idea compels us to design and explore structural systems with the resilience and topological ductility necessary to meet requirements of all kinds, beginning with issues of space, form and matter, questions of manufacturing, transportation and assembly and concerns even beyond that. Thus, structures will no longer be something we hide or we minimize and then hand over to engineers. In this workshop we would like to gain new leverage over the issue by assuming that we will make only a few steps of the immense journey ahead of our discipline.


The process is conceived as a dialectic exploration in small groups, with a first phase in which we will generate structural variations of the volumes inherited from previous workshops, analyzing and
manipulating them, defining structural matrixes that occupy, define and segment space and addressing the character and consistency of the resulting structures (including programmatic and contextual implications). Subsequently, prototypes will be selected and developed, incorporating questions of program, form and space at different levels, as well as material and industrial logics. The trial phase of the workshop will be the last one and we will explore and exhaust in it the performance of the prototypes responding to new requirements, producing singularities and “socializing” with other elements of the built environment (additional topological transformations, structural textures, constructions details, etc.), anticipating inputs from future workshops.

Working in teams and not having to close the design at the end of the workshop is optimal to conceive the process as an exploration and a dialectical process, avoiding the conflictive necessity to reach a single definitive output and increasing the amount of material produced, the transfer between groups, etc. We are not interested in final results as much as we would like to focus on the dialectic and exploratory process and the dissemination of seeds for future endeavors.

In parallel we will inquire on the performative aspects of the structures regarding sustainability. We encourage the group to be critical with standard ratings and certifications, objective parameters and more controversial ones (objective decisions and informality and even arbitrariness) to independently define what an advanced ecological structure means to each student.

The workshop will focus on timber structures. Considering the general scope of the curriculum of the MAEBB and the context of Valldaura forest as a resource, we will concentrate in the possibilities of wood (and its related technologies) as a structural material and as definitely one of the best options in construction from an ecological point of view. This should not be considered as a restrictive frame, since justified hybrid solutions are possible as well, but as a challenge. Wood has successfully performed the role traditionally assigned to other materials in the past (from tension chords to pipes) and offers a sustainable future of intensive use and promising technologies.



Projects from this course

Tabrizian Tapestry: Ecosystemic Structures

We believe in creating structures that not only meet functional requirements, but also celebrate and pay homage to local architectural traditions. With this in mind, we have taken inspiration from the iconic domes of Iran and integrated them into our design. Our building incorporates a unique bazaar on the ground floor, featuring a series of … Read more

DZONGHA | Ecosystemic Structures

The idea was to develop the structure to interact and adapt with the program and the people based on use and preferences The programme revolves around the concept of people from various walks of life can exchange knowledge and skills by teaching and communal living. The design Targets how to make a space adaptable to … Read more

MEDITERRANEAN I Ecosystemic Structures

ITERATION 1 Large Span Truss Structure Main Structural Components Primary Trusses Catlogue Forces Diagram Lateral Forces Diagram Gravity Truss Junction Details Physical Model understanding the structure Load Testing After a thorough analysis of the structural loading and its behavior, we have developed a more efficient and lightweight approach to address the cantilever and overall structure. … Read more

THE NEST | Ecosystemic Structures

The Nest is a project designed for the city of Accra, Ghana. The Site is located in close proximity to the lagoon and the sea. The design caters to public interventions like open markets, observatories, and residential units for the fishermen’s community. The goal with the design is to highlight the traditional techniques and materials used … Read more

AL HABIBITAT | Ecosystemic Structures

Basant Abdelrahman, Disha Arora, Pradyumna Vikharankar and Raffaele SchiavelloMASTER IN ADVANCED ECOLOGICAL BUILDINGS AND BIOCITIES 2022-23, IAAC CONCEPT Inspired by the Nubian Architecture, we conducted in depth research on the characteristics and structural elements of Aswan Villages. ASSEMBLY Assembly process highlighting the important elements in each step STRUCTURAL GRID CLUSTER PLAN 01 CLUSTER SECTION 01 … Read more

Arctic Onion | Ecosystemic Structures

We don’t wantWe don’t want to FEEL LONELY We don’t want to WASTE RESOURCES We don’t want to DEMOLISH structures We don’t want to EMIT Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere We don’t want UNIVERSAL and HOMOGENEOUS structures We don’t want to LOSE CONNECTION to our environment We wantWe want to LIVE in COMMUNAL settings We … Read more