Seminar Faculty: Javier Peña and Oriol Carrasco
Student Assistant: Alexander Dommershausen

Metabolic Roofs studio aims to rethink the built environment where we live in and our understanding of the architecture that surrounds us. Our cities have become extremely mineral and are no longer connected to the ecosystem they sit on, thus creating a barrier between city life and environment. 

Credits: Assembled Waves. Palau de la Musica
Ziyad Wassef Abdelkader Youssef Ahmed, Cecile Ngoc Suong Perdu, J. Levy Rodriguez & Nan Yin
Metabolic Roofs Studio 2020/21

During the studio, we will deal with architecture hacking techniques alongside metabolic processes. The projects we will develop will take advantage of one of the most powerful concepts nature has to offer: everything is interconnected. For such a purpose, we will need to understand metabolism as an infinite transformative process between energy and matter, where waste does not exist. These metabolic cycles could be, in a way, a solution to some of the environmental problems produced by modern cities. Could we instrumentalize those cycles and use them as design drivers for advanced architecture? Can we use the power of nature to reformulate architecture?

We will work towards the transformation of Barcelona´s built environment by proposing new architectures that can attach to existing buildings by rethinking how spaces need to be, while changing the relationship between citizens, technology, nature and public spaces. 

With a proper understanding of nature’s metabolic pathways, we will transform existing architecture into high performance hybrid natural machines whose by-product can be beneficial for the environment and the inhabitants. 

Credits: Mutations. Mercat de Santa Caterina
Sneha Vivek, Taras Kashko & Frank Feng
Metabolic Roofs Studio 2020/21

If we change our view and the focus of our architecture, could we change the existing relationship between city inhabitants and what we understand as natural spaces? Could we convert our cities into complex productive systems? Could our building solve the imminent climate crisis?

Cities are major contributors to climate change. Cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, they account for less than 2% of the Earth’s surface. (UN Habitat)

Metabolic roofs studio explores concepts such as tuning, hacking and retrofitting architecture in detail for achieving buildings capable of creating microcosmos and ecosystems inside cities. The challenge of the studio will be to generate architectural proposals that can deal not only with nature, climatic remediation processes and citizens, but also with the usage of new technologies and materials. 

We will start by modifying single buildings, but later on, the metabolic concepts used as design drivers could be applied to blocks, neighbourhoods and ultimately, the entire city of Barcelona.

The outcome of the studio aims to be a catalogue of new spaces, new relationships between buffer zones and citizens and, new technologies applied to nature. In this third (and last edition) of the metabolic roofs topic, we will discuss more in depth how this processes can change our understanding of construction and materiality  towards advanced architecture strategies. 


Javier Peña Galiano is Graduated in architecture (ETSAM 1992). Javier has been teaching in different universities around the world from the last 15+ years, where he develops an intense teaching experience in research projects in combination with the building industry.
He now leads Studio9 in Universidad de Alicante and is Senior Faculty at IAAC ‘Design With Nature’ research line. For the last period, he has been compiling his extensive work and writing into his PhD Thesis entitled ‘The Metabolic pixel’
In 1997 founded Xpiral, his architecture office with a central office in Murcia, but with delegations in Barcelona and Madrid. As principal of Xpiral, he leads the development of architectural proposals that explore alternatives to common design problems, using technology, new understandings of materiality and innovative space relationships.
Declares himself and the way of working in his office passionate about the ‘tuning methodology’, where models, drawings, prototypes and factories become fine tuned and radicalized as simultaneous tools for the advancement of the projects he develops. Some of those projects have been exhibited in MOMA, Venice Biennale and several other museums and exhibitions. Javier has also participated in numerous architectural competitions and within his practice has received several awards, including Europan6, finalist on FAD awards and selected works for Mies Van der Rohe Award.
Twitter: @XPIRALarch

Oriol Carrasco is Professor of Digital Tools at IED Barcelona (since 2012), where he also coordinates the computational department; Professor at IAAC in the Design with Nature research line (since 2013) and Professor in Computational Design at UIC’s School of Architecture (since 2016). He has extensive teaching experience where he has been sharing his computation and fabrication expertise. He studied architecture at the EsArq UIC (honors) and received his Masters degree at Elisava. Has a Ph.D in architecture and engineering, with the thesis entitled ‘FRP Additive Manufacturing for structural and architectural applications’.
Has been combining teaching and working in the engineering and architectural fields since 2005, collaborating with different studios and companies, developing projects in Europe and South America. Where he got involved in computational design, prototyping of real scale mock-ups, fabrication methods and construction phases. Founded in 2015 AtStudio, an architecture firm that provides consulting services in the intersection of architecture, design and technology. At the present time, works almost exclusively as part of the production engineering team that develops Basilica Sagrada Familia.
Twitter: @oriol_carrasco