Metabolic Garden – Activating Public Space

Global Warming + Atmospheric Air Pollution in Barcelona

Global Warming occurs when CO2 and other air pollutants and greenhouse gases collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounded off the earth’s surface. Normally , this radiation would escape into space – but these pollutants, which can last for years to centuries in the atmosphere, trap the heat and cause planet to get hotter.

Carbon Data Box

Site – Superilla

Barcelona over a period of time has been seeing an escalation in the rate of air pollution. It is considered one of the most air polluted cities in Europe. Various organizations are taking precautions measures to reduce this problem, with numerous methods. Thus, in a similar manner this project helps in contributing towards a cleaner environment by re-mediating the atmospheric air pollutants. One of the areas in Barcelona that has been declared as a “Superilla” on an experimental basis (Nine blocks with restricted vehicular movement). Aforesaid is the area of intervention. The site of this project is based on the untouched zones of the Superilla in terms of Urban Interaction. The site has been chosen in a way to activate the deserted public spaces in the Superilla through interactive installations that caters in cleaning the as well as involvement of the residents and the visitors. This will be done with the help of modules that evolve with time and interaction. The entire concept of this project is to have cleaner breathable air with natural materials and a passive working system.
Metabolic Energy Flow:

Metabolic Cycle + Sedum Species

Metabolic Modules are the new urban intervention in the city in the form of modular installations that re-mediate the micro-climate of the Superilla in a passive manner with the help of human involvement, to create a better living environment.

Micro Level – The symbiosis between the aforesaid three elements in their natural state. Inter-dependency of natural elements.
Macro Level – Human interaction to grow the Sedums and regulate the water flow when moisture is required by the soil.
Urban Level – Interactive metabolic modules that grow on the streets and eventually the entire city over a period of time.

Main elements of these interactive modules consist of Sedum – a local species of plant, Zeolites a natural metamorphic, volcanic rock and activated carbon.

Sedums need minimum supervision for growth and are drought resistant. Thus the prototype evolution uses the basic elements of nature and the idea to clean the air.

Active Agents – Symbiosis


Zeolite is natural metamorphic rock created over a period of time due to volcanic eruptions. These natural stones have a lot of properties specifically due to its physical structure. Its physical structure consists of sponge like structure with openings. This gives zeolite its edge over other gravel. This physical property of zeolites helps it to capture CO2, water molecule and essential nutrients and minerals in the soil. The plant roots and zeolites have a special relation and thus attach to each other over a period of time for specific reasons – 1. As it captures CO2 and provides it to the plant convert it into malic acid and necessary food through photosynthesis. 2. It absorbs water and provides it to the plant in drought situations. 3. The roots absorb the essential minerals such as phosphorous, Nitrogen and Potassium from the soil as and when required. Due to these organic cycles the plant growth is faster and both the zeolite and the plant absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere to sustain each other.

Activated Carbon:

It is mostly used in aquariums as a chemical filter to remove the organic and in organic harmful matter. It works the same in soil and removes all the harmful chemicals present in adulterated soil making it healthy for the plant roots. It also removes odors from the soil if any in order to keep it clean. Thus the terrarium was layered in the order with first layer being that of zeolites then activated carbon, followed by dirt/mud and moss. Activated Carbon can also absorb CO2 emissions from the air thus is considered an agent in air purification.


Metabolic Modules is a project of IaaC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, developed at Master in Advanced Architecture in 2017/2018 by:

Gayatri Desai, Andrea Champion, Abhishek Soman

Faculty : Javier Peña + Oriol Carrasco