Leafy Heart


The 2021-22 MAEBB class was presented with the opportunity to develop a portion of  the urban scape of Carrer de  Provença outside the Escola  Entença .Situated in the grounds of what was previously Barcelona’s La Model Prison, the Escola Entença has emerged as a premier in infant and primary education based on a pedagogical model of  research, movement and critical thinking. 

In a bid to provide some contrast to its darker past, MAEBB students sought out to inject poetic justice into the concept of their work by turning urban furniture into playful and functional works of art for the kids and the neighbourhood. 


The Leafy-Heart installation was built upon the concept of a childhood toy basket spilled out onto the street. In reality this translated into playful wooden boxes that allow for both functionality and fun. 


These wooden boxes attempt to reimagine waste material and the circular design process by re-using discarded wooden pieces to make a dynamic façade. Each piece was formerly scrap wood from the Carpentry at Valldaura Labs, recycled and re-processed individually by students to create a rich tapestry of wooden texture and color. 

The heart shape refers to the love that went into the construction of the boxes, and the joy they will bring to the students that will use them. The leaf refers to the forest that created the wood, and the ecological processes that we are all a part of.


The structure of the boxes consist of 2 m x 2m x 1m wide wooden frames of pine wood in  horizontal sections of 50 x 100mm and verticals of 70 x 70mm. The interior consisted of 21 x 68 mm, 1 m  planks. The structure was braced on either end and the cladding on the front and back facades screwed (from the interior) onto 15mm thick plywood. 

Box Structure

Processing Wood

After an initial  2 days of preliminary works of sourcing and processing the façade pieces ;cutting, sanding and cataloguing, the  construction process began with the preparation of wood. The lumber was received in  4.2 m long , 50 x 200 mm section planks and was transformed into sixteen  2 – 2.1 m  and sixteen  0.87m , 50 x 100 mm usable sections. 


This process involved moving from the following carpentry tools in succession :

  1.  Chop Saw : Cutting the 4.2 m planks into 2.1 m lengths.
  2. Jointer : Planing two faces (large and small)  of the plank in order to obtain smooth and level surfaces.
  3. Table Saw : Splitting the now 2,1 m long , 50 x 200mm pieces into two to obtain 50 x 100mm sections.
  4. Chop Saw : To cut all pieces to appropriate length


Sawing and Planing Lumber

The digital tool involved in our fabrication process was the CNC machine that was employed to cut out the leaf and heart shapes from  the 15mm pieces of plywood. The  plywood was also used to construct the frame structure that held together the cutout pieces. 

CNC Cutting and Nesting Files


This entire construction process from preparation to completion  required 6 team members working 5 days, for  8 to 9  hours a day.

Frame Assembly


‘Façad-ing in Ply’


Patchwork Cladding Techniques


Natural Oil Treatment

Wood treatment was done using a natural, non-toxic mixture of oils called TriCoil. This is made by combining Raw Linseed Oil , Tung Oil and Coconut Oil with Turpentine in a volumetric ratio of 6:3:2:9 respectively and heating up the mixture in a water bath up to 50 °C . The finished product is very light and easily spreadable by paint brush. 


‘Cooking’ TriCoil


Treating Frame With TriCoil


Moving Day

11th of December marked the installation date that involved not just the school , students and their parents but the entire Carrer de Provença. The section of the street opposite the school was cordoned off for a ‘block-party’ during which the assembly of the ‘New Niu’ was carried out while our Leafy-Heart Boxes and Log Benches were offloaded off the back of a truck by crane and installed along the street. 

Loading : Valldaura


Off Loading: Carrer Provença


Installation Exercise and Festivities : Carrer Provença

Even though we constantly retained in mind that these boxes were primarily being designed and being built for children, we weren’t prepared for the level of pure joy, fascinating and excitement that the children experienced when interacting with the boxes. We also hadn’t anticipated the various different ways that children could have found to play in and with the boxes. All of this was well worth the hours of building outdoors in the Barcelona winter. So very worth it because to quote Urbanism ‘Hall of Fame-r’ Enrique PenalosaPublic Space is for living, doing business, kissing and playing. It’s value can’t be measured with economics or mathematics; it must be felt with the soul.” 





Leafy- Heart is a project of IAAC, the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, developed in the Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities (MEABB 01) 2021/22 by students: Kshitij  Sarote | Agnieszka Szklarczyk | Mónica I. Pérez Rivera | Leif Riksheim |  Prasidh Choudhary | Lillian Beauttah

Faculty: Vicente Guallart | Alex Hadley | Bruno Ganem Coutinho