The Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings is an 11-month immersive academic programme with an emphasis on using a practice-oriented approach to train professionals with advanced expertise in the design and construction of ecological buildings. The programme takes place in the Valldaura Labs, in Barcelona, Spain.

During the first six months in Barcelona, students will embark on a series of intensive and cumulative modules and workshops that will tackle all the fields interrelated with the design and construction of advanced ecological buildings, including material, thermal and metabolic building systems.

After developing the aforementioned skills, students will collectively create the design concept, strategies, fabrication techniques and blueprints for an ecological building prototype, which they will build during the last three months of the programme.

Edition 2nd edition
Director Daniel Ibañez & Vicente Guallart
Degree Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings
Credits 90 ECTS
Duration 11 months – From September 2019 to August 2020
Modality Immersive and full time
Language English
Tuition Fees Non-EU: 28.350€
EU: 24.500€
Additional information The full tuition fee includes the price of the academic programme (Non-EU citizens 19.250€ & EU citizens 15.400€) together with other fares such as accommodation in shared rooms, full board, laundry, use of the washing machine, WIFI, access to the Green Fab Lab and expenses at Valldaura Self-Sufficient Labs.

*Transportation and other services not mentioned are not included.

** Non-resident options are available for applicants already based in Barcelona, please get in contact with the Admissions Coordinator at [email protected]

Admission Architecture, Engineering, Design, Bachelor or higher degree from other related professions
  1. Immersive Education: This Master offers a unique immersive education experience at Valldaura Labs. Sleeping, eating, socialising, studying, prototyping, designing, and building all happens at this unique location.

  2. Learning by Doing: Students learn based on their own experience and through hands-on building full-scale prototypes. This Master is fundamentally hands-on with an emphasis on professional expertise. Every year of the Master program will build a 1:1 building prototype.

  3. Multidisciplinary Education: Students will have access to courses and workshops from all disciplines around buildings.

  4. Connected Education: Students collaborate with other academic design centres and institutions that are developing similar projects.

  5. Recording Process: Each student registers and documents all the knowledge generated by the Master programme in a unique and open online platform.

  6. International community: This Master programme is oriented towards students both from mature economies, such as Europe or North America, as well as emergent economies such as China, India or Latin America.


IAAC’s immersive Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings (MAEB) is an innovative educational format that offers interdisciplinary skills and understanding through the research on new categories of projects, technologies and solutions related with the design, prototyping, and fabrication of ecological buildings.

IAAC gives students the opportunity to create individual Studio agendas and develops Thesis Projects based on ecological design, thermodynamics applied to buildings, new fabrication techniques, material experimentation, solar technologies and more. In this way, IAAC puts together an experimental and learning environment for the training of professionals with both intellectual and applied responses to the increasing complexity and environmental pressures of contemporary urban environments.

Students have the opportunity to be part of a highly international group, including faculty members, researchers and lecturers, in which they are encouraged to develop collective decision-making processes and materialise their project ideas.

The Master develops seminars, workshops, studios and master classes along these thematics: Contemporary Theory and Practice of Ecological Architecture, Digital Fabrication, Ecology, Solar Energy and Thermodynamics, Eco-Materials, Advanced Structures and Metabolic Building Systems.


Valldaura Labs. Barcelona, Spain.

Valldaura Labs is a living lab and centre for research on self-sufficient habitats. Built around a XIX s. traditional Catalan Masia, its infrastructure aims to become a prototypical place for architecture and ecology in the post-carbon era. It aims to produce food, energy, and things. Located in Collserola park, 30 minutes away from the centre of Barcelona, the lab has an area of 130 hectares. Valldaura has a Green Fab Lab facility part of the MIT’s Fab Lab network and has a full digital fabrication facility. Also, this lab provides living space for 25 students.

The programme is structured as it follows:

Valldaura Labs Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings

This module introduces students to Valldaura Self-Sufficient Lab. It develops a deep exploration of the geographical, climatic, ecological features of the site of future prototyping and experimentation. Including spatial and quantitative data, the goal of this module is to introduce students to the local dynamics of the place. Tree species, soil composition, material cycles, radiation, wind, temperature, humidity, biota, facilities, infrastructures, will be some of the components investigated.

Duration: 1 week

Output: A series of cartographic representations.

Faculty: Jon Minchin

This module playfully develops morphological prototypes derived from heliotropic inputs explored in the previous module. These morphological prototypes respond only to external inputs, regardless of any internal configuration.  This includes radiation as a main parameter but also humidity, temperature and wind flows. These inputs are the only design inputs to start crafting form-oriented prototypes. There is no consideration of any active systems. The goal of this module is to explore design strategies where form follows heliotropic inputs. Questions of compactness, slenderness, expansivity, horizontally, fragmentation, as well as the positionality (over, under, elevated, etc), are exposed to formal transformation by solar, wind and temperature inputs.

Duration: 3 weeks

Output: Catalog of heliomorphic physical models exploring variations

Faculty: Charles Waldheim / Jacobo Garcia Germán

This module develops morphological prototypes derived from thermodynamic inputs. In contrast with the previous module, this is only concerned with internal thermodynamic factors such radiation, convection, conduction, regardless of any external form. The goal is to find out what are the internal forms and spaces that could be created following different thermal flows. This internal exploration with revisited devices such as courtyards, atriums, solar chimneys, double skins, horizontal galleries, diagonal ventilation, etc..

Duration: 2 weeks

Output: Catalog of thermodynamic drawings exploring variations

Faculty: Philippe Rahm/Kiel Moe

Considering only the active spatial devices this module adds another layer of transformation to the previous modules. It enhances the performance of building prototypes by critically exploring available and new potential technological devices that could be implemented in the project. Wind turbines, solar panels, responsive facades, digital devices are some of the multiple device explorations possible to be developed and implemented in this module.

Duration: 2 weeks

Output: Sectional drawings + Devices model

Faculty: Matthias Shüler / Oscar Aceves

Buildings are bundles of materials and flows that are in constantly flowing in and out of its footprint. This module explores these metabolic systems that support the daily life of buildings to projectively envision new ways of dealing with them. If most of the buildings today have a linear metabolism, consuming resources, energy, water and information and generating waste products and emissions, the potentials to develop the building as a circular metabolism is yet to be fully developed. By looking at water systems, foods, information, carbon emissions, waste products, the goal is to come up with feedback loops that enhance the ecological performance of buildings.

Duration: 4 weeks

Output: Devices/models/diagrams for a circular metabolism of buildings

Faculty: Nikos Katsikis/Uriel Fogué / Jon Minchin / Jochen Schreer

One of the biggest environmental impacts of buildings is its material configuration. This module explores the use of materials that are attentive to environmental impacts. For instance, the manufacturing of one cubic meter of concrete generates twenty-eight times the carbon footprint of the manufacture of a cubic meter of wood. Analysing these aspects will be a key entry to material exploration. In addition, the research on the location of manufacturing and extraction of materials is the central aspect of this module as well. An important part of the environmental impacts of materials come through the transportation from origin to destination. So a local manufacturing of a high intense carbon emission (ceramic) might be more ecological than a distant low intense carbon emission material (wood).

Duration: 2 weeks

Output: Cartographies of material geographies and material systems models

Faculty: Jane Hutton/Thomas Sherman

Buildings are made of materials such as concrete, wood, ceramics but the materiality of buildings transcends the material selection itself. This module explores buildings as a material construct whose textures and materiality provides a gestalt unique to any project. Earthy, geographical, ethereal, crystalline, mossy, hairy are some of the approaches to materiality present today. This module explores this material aspiration to create more vivid and materially exuberant building that is something more than an assembly of materials. This workshop will consist in the production of several material prototypes and sculptures.

Duration: 2 weeks

Output: Sculpture/model

Faculty: Marta Domenech

After the loading of conditions for the design of ecologically positive buildings, this module explores its structural possibilities. Considering new technological advancements in manufacturing processes as well as in material innovations, this modules formalises the previous exploration in a structural scheme. This section will design, fabricate and test few structural variations of the project. The outcome of this module is a series of digitally fabricated models.

Duration: 2 weeks

Output: 1:10 models

Faculty: Khaled Saleh Pasha /Florian Foerster

An important percentage of the environmental, thermal and ecological performance of a building has to do with the façade. Historically at the centre of the design concerns, today façade design is in many cases the selection of solutions from pre-given catalogues and systems. This module is intended to control the performance of a building through its wall system. By designing the material(s), the arrangement of layers, thickness and its shape, buildings could achieve a much powerful environmental, thermal and ecological performance.

Duration: 3 weeks

Output: 1:1 prototype

Faculty: Salmaan Craig/Jacob Mans/Benjamin Peek/Miquel Rodriguez

With the neoliberal flexibilization of labour regimes and perpetual motion of people between places, this module critically explores how buildings can adapt to new programmatic and functional demands. The goal of this section is to develop hybrid programs that create both functional diversity but also adaptability to new forms of social organization and need. Considering the importance of hybrid programs for buildings but also the different temporal scenarios, this module aspires to position new architectures and buildings within the needs of contemporary society.

Duration: 1 weeks

Output: Photographic essay + diagramming

Faculty: TBD

While the effort of this Master is in the design and prototyping of ecologically driven buildings, this module will address the potential site settings that could be relevant to the project. Envisioning the complete design of the project in a particular place enables to think in questions of density, urban design, landscape architecture. The goal, therefore, is to create larger systems having the eco-buildings as a unit. The goal is to explore potential feedback-loops and couplings with the immediate physical environment from an urban design and landscape architecture perspectives.

Duration: 2 weeks

Output: Model + drawings

Faculty: Jesus Vasallo

The last module of will consists of simulation and testing of the project itself. Through powerful means of visualisation, the goal of this module is to back-up the design explorations with quantifiable data. From thermal testing to emergy accounting, to carbon emission measurements, each project is ecologically ranked.

Duration: 2 weeks

Output: Model + drawings

Faculty: David Kennedy


This seminar provides the opportunity to learn ecological principles on site. Forestry practices and regimes, ecological agriculture, permaculture are some of the environmental practices the seminars provide. Students will learn by doing some of this practices as part of the harvesting, production, and generation of material for future projects in the Master program.

This seminar provides the opportunity to learn ecological principles on site. Forestry practices and regimes, ecological agriculture, permaculture are some of the environmental practices the seminars provide. Students will learn by doing some of this practices as part of the harvesting, production, and generation of material for future projects in the Master program.

This seminar provides the necessary training for students on the techniques of digital fabrication, including CNC milling, laser cutting, 3D printing but also carpentry and conventional fabrication and construction. This seminar will also cover all the necessary software instruction, including design, parametric and fabrication software.

This seminar provides de intellectual and scientific foundations for all the work on ecological buildings. This sem

The Master program hosts lectures by external experts in the multiple interrelated disciplines. The goal of this lectures is to provide students with a broad perspective on the construction of cities, development of ecological buildings, as well as the constructive techniques and systems. Additionally, students have full access to all the lecture series organised at IAAC in its [email protected]

Pre-opening lecture by Bjarke Ingels.

Tentative names: /Kiel Moe/ Salmaan Craig/ Khaled Pascha/ Andrew Waugh from Waugh Thistleton Architects/ Foster and Partners


This block consists of the design and development of the technical documents of a real ecological building project that will be fabricated and built during the last two months of the programme. For that to happen, students will utilise all the knowledge and expertise acquired during the previous months working as a single team of faculty and students for the design development of the project. This phase of the Master will be joined by renowned experts that will advise on a series of topics ranging from ecological material to energy technologies.

Duration: 12 weeks

Output: Model + drawings

Faculty: Daniel Ibañez, Daniela Frogheri, Vicente Guallart

During two months, students will work on the construction of an ecological building at real scale. This building will integrate all the technical and constructive elements in other to make it livable. This process will utilise parametric design techniques, advance digital fabrication and ecological design principles. Students will live the experience of building it’s one building in collaboration with professionals and local experts in a unique natural environment. The project will be part of a villa with buildings designed by local and international architects.

Duration: 12 weeks

Output: Model + drawings

Faculty: Daniel Ibañez, Daniela Frogheri, Vicente Guallart, Yang Lei


The Master programme is oriented towards engineers, architects, artists, makers, designers, and graduates from any discipline related to the crafting of the built environment. The programme will be developed with the collaboration of companies and industry leading experts from around the world with the goal of forming new professionals interested in leading the design of ecological buildings worldwide.

MAEB Solar House

“Endesa Pavilion” solar house by IAAC


IAAC has a close relationship with the community of architecture in Barcelona and Europe, and its recommendations are heard in most cases for the development of architectural practices or collaborations by our students. Specifically for the development of the MAEB, the IAAC has agreements to carry out practices (following the selection criteria of each company) with:

Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings - Accommodation

“Endesa Pavilion” solar house by IAAC



MAEB offers 3 partial scholarships covering 50%, 30%, 20% for the tuition fee of the immersive Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings. Please read the competition outlines and terms & conditions below. The awards will be given to the top 3 contestants respectively.


Society is facing unprecedented challenges. The increasing concern over whether we will be able to reach the objectives of the Paris Agreement COP21 calls for a change in the way think, act and build.

We want you to do exactly that, think and build in a different way and share your idea of the house of the future with us. How is architecture going to help create a better future, a more sustainable and self-sufficient one? We don’t expect you to actually build something -just yet- but we do want to see the passion behind your ideas and plans, we want to see the way you draw and the added value you would bring to this master programme in Advanced Ecological Buildings.


Format – PDF file, A3 format, 3 pages max (max10MB)

Deadline – to be announced

Submission link – to be announced


  • All the material must be a result of an unpublished work developed entirely by the candidate, not to be used in other previous occasions – plagiarism will not be tolerated.

  • The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia is entitled not to award the scholarship if the projects do not meet the standards set by the institution to be defined by the jury.

  • If awarded, the scholarship cannot be combined with other economic reductions.

  • Scholarships are to be deducted from total tuition fee balance.

  • Unclaimed scholarships could be transferred to the next candidate in the ranking list.

  • Winners accept part of their work/photo to be published on IAAC’s social media channels.

*Please note that in order for your scholarship application to be considered as valid, you must also apply through IAAC’s regular application process in following the instruction described in this link. If you have already applied then send an email to the Applications Coordinator ([email protected]) to communicate that you are also applying for a scholarship.


The Jury will be integrated by master programme Directors, faculty, special guests and professionals coming from the different fields related to the topics of the competition.


The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia will release the name of the winners on its official website and Facebook page.


Valldaura offers two different accommodation formats for a total of 23 students:

  1. Shared double room with individual shower and toilet for 350 €/month per person – (10 beds)
  2. Attic with shared rooms and bathrooms for 250 €/month – (13 beds) 

The programme is conceived to be an immersive experience. However, students can decide whether to live in Valldaura Self-Sufficient Labs or in Barcelona itself. Distance from the closest metro station to Valldaura Labs is 10 minutes by car or motorbike, 25 minutes by bike and 45 minutes walking.

Food is not included in the tuition fees. Students will have access to a common kitchen and will be organising a shared meal service.

Option 1:

Shared double room with bathroom – (5 rooms available)

  • 350€/month
  • Food not included

Option 2:

Attic with shared rooms and bathrooms – (13 beds available)

  • 250€/month
  • Food not included


Vicente Guallart

IAAC Founder / Valldaura Labs Director / MAEB Co-Director / Director / Board of Trustees Member

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Rodrigo Aguirre

MAA, CIEE, GSS Senior Faculty / Computational Advisor

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Daniel Ibañez

MAEB Co-Director / Board of Trustees Member

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Nicolò Gnecchi

Fab Manager at Valldaura Labs

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Honorata Grzesikowska coordinator / MaCT Studio & MAEB Faculty/ Urban Projects Research

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Jonathan Minchin

ROMI Project Manager / Open Source Beehives Project Manager / MAA Senior Faculty / MAEB & MDEF Faculty

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Jordi Vivaldi

MaCT Seminar Faculty / MAA Faculty

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Oscar Aceves

MAEB Faculty / Energy

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Jochen Scheerer

MAEB Faculty / Water

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Marta Domènech

MAEB Faculty / MAP 13

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David López

MAEB Faculty / MAP 13

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