“To walk attentively through a forest, even a damaged one, is to be caught by the abundance of life: ancient and new; underfoot and reaching into the light. But how does one tell the life of the forest? We might begin by looking for drama and adventure beyond the activities of humans.“
– Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

1/ Context

The Valldaura estate comprises 135 hectares of forest within the 1300 hectare Collserola Natural Park. As recently as the 1940’s the landscape was severely cleared, not a single tree left standing, to suit the monocultural agricultural strategies of the time. Fortunately nature is resilient and the Mediterranean climate generous, thus 80 years later the valleys are once again verdant. What may already appear to be a well established forest in fact represents a pioneering ecosystem, dominated primarily by fast growing Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis). To accelerate development of the regionally appropriate mature ecosystem evolutionarily optimized to enhance biodiversity, carbon sequestration, air purification and resilience, and dominated instead by slower growing trees such as evergreen/holm/holly oak (Quercus ilex), strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), hazelnut (Corylus avellana), and the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) from which Valldaura takes its name, sustainable forest management practices are therefore required.

In order to construct the next generation of full scale wooden prototypes, Valldaura Labs will harvest approximately 100 trees this season. Every specimen is individually and carefully selected based on the Collserola Natural Park and Valldaura estate Forest Management Plans, diligently cataloged with regard to dimensions and coordinates, and evaluated against the internally developed criteria of L.O.V.E. (location, orientation, value, ecology) to guarantee their extraction both improves the long-term health of the forest and provides the resident Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings & Biocities (MAEBB) class high quality, fully traceable material from which they can construct architectural prototypes. Finally, each trunk is felled and withdrawn using a combination of wedges, pulleys, cables and winches to minimize undesirable damage to neighboring organisms.

The objective of this course will be to eventually understand and take full part in the forestry harvesting process here at Valldaura Labs. First, students must gain a sophisticated understanding of the structure of forests and their constituent elements, then develop techniques for advanced digital analysis of trees, and produce usable timber elements for the projects that will be developed throughout the year using sustainable forestry management practices. Forests are an essential part of our biological environment: the circular interaction between trees, animals, insects, fungus, bacterium that make up this ecosystem are crucial to understanding our interactions with the world around us. By combining locally developed tacit knowledge of the forest with advanced digital computation and analysis, this class will give students a unique and innovative way to understand forest biology and operationalize harvesting methods to prepare materials for use in future projects.


2/ Objectives

At course completion the student will:
1. Understand the underlying structure of the forest, its constituent parts and how they work together to create a thriving and diverse forest ecosystem.
2. Understand how tree mechanics inform the growth of a tree, and how these dynamics affect methods of harvesting production, and eventual use of timber products.
3. Understand the biological dynamics of harvesting wood within the context of contemporary sustainable forestry management techniques.
4. Understand tools and techniques used in sustainable forest management and lumber processing.
5. Take part in harvesting, cataloging, organizing and processing trees from the Valldaura forest.
6. Understand the basic theory and concepts behind 3D scanning and photogrammetry.
7. Understand how to use several programs (Agisoft Metashape, etc.) to process point clouds made from 3D scans.
8. Learn to document and analyze trees using 3D scanning and data management techniques.

2/ Faculty

Gerrard Passola

Since 1994, Gerard Passola has worked as an arboricultural consultant, specializing in the implantation of trees in urban soils, tree risk studies and analysis, as well as in the design and execution of highly specialized tree services (transplants, artificial support, physiological recovery as clinical practice for trees, etc.) His field of work in urban arboriculture ranges from researching new techniques, consulting, carrying out special work for high-value trees and communication of advanced forest knowledge through academic courses, conferences and publications at a national and international level.In 1999 Gerard Passola founded DoctorÁrbol, a Tree, Research and Management company dedicated to leading research and development of modern arboriculture of which he was also its technical director.




Since 2011, Noumena has developed practice integrating cutting-edge technology to study and analyze spatial behaviors. Noumena has specialized in spatial analytics; the process of extracting or creating new information about a set of geographic features. Noumena has pioneered creative usages of 3D Scanning technologies, particularly with drones scans and unique processing workflows to turn dense point clouds into imminently useful information.

Oriol Arroyo

Oriol is an electronics engineer. Before working as an intern, now he is a Computer Scientist at Noumena, where he is motivated to undertake and contribute to new projects in the fields of computer vision, AI, and robotics.

Maria Espina

Maria is a telecommunications engineer interested in computer vision and artificial intelligence technologies. She is currently taking a Deep Learning for Multimedia Processing Master.

Salvador Calgua

Salvador is an architect with an interest in the accessibility of information and computer vision for design applications. Currently, he is working as a researcher at Noumena.