Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings

The Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities postgraduate program is an 11-month immersive academic program focused on learning how to design and build a new generation of buildings and cities to respond to the planet’s emerging climate challenges.

The program is carried out in Valldaura Labs, in Barcelona, a 135 He property located in the Collserola forest. Here, students will live and work surrounded  by nature while using the most advanced technologies and design techniques in the pursuit of what is also IAAC’s long term initiative, to create self-sufficient and ecological environments.

During the first six months in the program, students are comprehensively trained in the principles of design and construction of advanced ecological buildings through a series of focused and intense modules. These include material production, thermal and metabolic building systems, ecological structures and façade systems and much more.

After developing the necessary skills and a holistic understanding of advanced and ecological design, students collectively draft and build a full scale ecological building prototype.

Valldaura Campus


Architectural regimes today are characterized by the linearity of material flows: buildings take resources from the biosphere, such as energy, material, nutrients or water, and return waste in a linear fashion. The overemphasis on specific buildings easily obscures these relationships at a broader scale. A building, for example, requires elaborate infrastructure systems and resources that can extend hundreds of kilometers away from the built-up spaces of the cities. Today, while many of the sustainability questions are focused on evaluating building performance, ecology, on the other hand precisely highlights the interconnectedness of these processes as a fundamental design territory. As ecologist Barry Commoner reminds us, “everything is interconnected with everything else.” With this ambition, the Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings aims to achieve more meaningful and robust ecological buildings for the built environment.

Following up on the urban research conducted by IAAC in the last several years in fields such as Solar Housings, Eco neighbourhoods, Internet of Energy, Hydrogrid, and Digital Fabrication, the Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings is orientated towards training professionals in the design, prototyping, and fabrication of buildings as ecological and thermodynamic systems.

Following the models of ecological processes, the proposed conceptual framework operates at multiples scales: both at the molecular and territorial scales. Properly designed, a wood building, for example, can act as a carbon sink, it can improve the health and reproduction of a forest, it can minimize energy expenditures in transportation (if locally produced), and trigger a local bio-economy. This ecological feedback-loops and potential retrofits between the building and the multiple scales that is connected with are central to the pedagogy of this Master.

This approach is necessary for a more materially exuberant and ecologically powerful design practice for the future.

The MAEB allows students to examine material and energy issues – broadly defined, from the material to the geographical – across disciplines and scales, taking full advantage of the unique location of Valldaura Self–Sufficient Labs: IAAC’s fabrication lab located in the forest, its fabrication infrastructure and the potentials of its surrounding territories.


The curriculum of the programme is diverse: from short workshops with leading experts to module courses, regular seminars and lectures, and a year-long project with an emphasis on real-scale prototyping. The Master addresses the question of the design as a comprehensive, intellectual and applied project in which prototyping and fabrication processes are a central pedagogic component, emphasising the role of the architect as a hands-on applied maker.

Each Master candidate will develop technological and fabrication seminars, ecological and thermal analytical frameworks, and real-scale prototypes to have a unique expertise in the development of ecological and thermodynamic buildings. The Master will also provide a unique opportunity to create a real-size building prototype as the final Master project. From the material to the territory, the Master in Ecological Buildings foresees the design, development, and implementation of a new wave of buildings, prototypes, technologies and design solutions of true ecological value that can be extended systematically to be part of the next urban future.

The Master programme is orientated towards engineers, architects, artists, makers, designers, and graduates in any discipline related to the crafting of the built environment. The programme will be developed with the collaboration of companies and industry leading experts from around the world with the goal of forming new professionals interested in leading the design of ecological buildings worldwide.

The programme is led by Vicente Guallart, the former chief architect of the city of Barcelona, one of the world’s leading cities for architecture. Barcelona is constantly developing a signature design and the construction of its advanced buildings and environments is recognised worldwide.


  1. Immersive Education: This Master offers a unique immersive education experience at Valldaura Labs. Sleeping, eating, socialising, studying, prototyping, designing, and building all happens at this unique location.

  2. Learning by Doing: Students learn based on their own experience and through hands-on building full-scale prototypes. This Master is fundamentally hands-on with an emphasis on professional expertise. Every year of the Master programme will build a 1:1 building prototype.

  3. Multidisciplinary Education: Students will have access to courses and workshops from all disciplines around buildings.

  4. Connected Education: Students collaborate with other academic design centres and institutions that are developing similar projects.

  5. Recording Process: Each student registers and documents all the knowledge generated by the Master programme in a unique and open online platform.

  6. International community: This Master programme is oriented towards students both from mature economies, such as Europe or North America, as well as emergent economies such as China, India or Latin America.

Edition2nd edition
DirectorDaniel Ibañez & Vicente Guallart
DegreeMaster in Advanced Ecological Buildings
Credits90 ECTS
Duration11 months – From September 2020 to August 2021
ModalityImmersive and full time
Full Tuition Fee

(Tuition fee + Room + Full Board)

Non-EU: 28.350€

EU: 24.500€

Additional informationThe Full Tuition Fee includes the price of the academic programme (Non-EU citizens 19.250€ & EU citizens 15.400€) together with other fees such as accommodation in shared rooms, full board, laundry, use of the washing machine, WIFI, access to the Green Fab Lab and expenses at Valldaura Self-Sufficient Labs.*Transportation and other services not mentioned are not included.

** Non-resident options are available for applicants already based in Barcelona, please get in contact with the Admissions Coordinator at [email protected]

AdmissionArchitecture, Engineering, Design, Bachelor or higher degree from other related professions