Advanced Forestry Analysis : Workshop w/ Gerard Passola (Dr Arbol)

The 2021-22 MAEBB program kicked off in early October, and while the 18 new students are still settling into their new home/campus workshop at Valldaura Labs, they have already begun diving deep into the lessons of the forest. The biological, mechanical and metabolic patterns that occur and can be observed within the Collserola forest are some of the primary source material for the designs and prototypes the students will create during the year.

Gerard Passola has been a core member of the MAEBB faculty for the past 4 years of the program, providing an immersive and in depth lecture series introducing the students to the life cycles of the forest, biomechanical properties of tree growth, natural indicators of stress or disease, and how to properly identify which trees are to be selected for harvest. His background as a renowned tree biologist and forestry health expert allows him to identify signs and signals the trees and plants give that are imperceptible to the untrained eye. Students learn from Gerard about the life cycle of the forest, and how trees form networks of nutrients under the forest floor. Each tree is uniquely formed by the stresses and wind loads placed upon it throughout its life, and these tensions and forces are rendered within the fibers of the tree. By understanding this growing process, students gain an insight into how they will better apply structural forces to the timber material they will harvest. All the knowledge gained during Gerard’s forestry workshop will be put to use during the first week of November, when the students will participate in cutting, transporting, storing and cataloging 50 pine trees from the forest that surrounds Valldaura Labs. These pines will be sliced and dried in December, and become the primary material for the full scale prototype the students will design and construct as their final thesis project next summer. Each tree is geolocated, labeled and tabulated, allowing the students to trace each piece of material throughout the process.

In addition to learning from the traditional and tacit knowledge of timber harvesters and forest biologists, the MAEBB students will also create detailed 3D scans of the forest using photogrammetry. This past week, Oriol Arroyo, Maria Espina and Salvador Calgua from Barcelona based tech company Noumena provided the students with an in-depth workshop on computer vision, and how to create and analyze 3D scans done with cameras or mobile phones. Students will create high resolution models of the trees they harvest, and apply advanced analysis techniques to better estimate their material supply.