Last April 28th and 29th, the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) hosted its 4th Global Alumni Meeting in Barcelona, featuring an impressive lineup of distinguished Alumni who presented their latest works and engaged in thought-provoking discussions on the future of architecture. The event, hosted by IAAC’s Head of Studies, Mathilde Marengo, was held at the Entre-especies Stage of the MODEL Barcelona Architectures Festival 2023.

The Alumni Talks covered a wide range of topics, showcasing the innovative work being done by IAAC Alumni in areas such as ecological, biological, and robotic design, urban micro-mobility investigations, and social inclusion policy.

The Alumni selected through the call for speakers launched earlier this year for this edition were Jean-Luc Pierite, an Alumnus of the Master in Design for Emergent Futures (MDEF) 2020/21; Camilla Franchini, an Alumna of the Master in Advanced Architecture (MAA) 2016/18; Sebastian Voigt, an Alumnus of the Master in Robotics and Advanced Construction (MRAC) 2018/19; Jessica Dias, an Alumna of MAA 2015/17; Michael Salka, an Alumnus of the Master in Ecological Buildings and Biocities (MAEBB) 2018/19; and Ioulietta Zindrou, an Alumna of MAA 2005/06.

The event began with a presentation from Indigenous activist and designer Jean-Luc Pierite, who spoke about the importance of embodied land acknowledgments. Pierite’s innovative approach to design and activism has the power to transform communities and challenge traditional power structures.

Next up was architect and urban planner Camilla Franchini, who presented on “Buro Happold’s Micro Mobility Street Design Manual,” which offers exciting developments in the field of transportation planning. Sebastian Voigt, a highly skilled product designer, robotic fabrication specialist, and cybercrafter, presented on the topic of “Design + Robotics Cyber Crafting Micro-factories,” showcasing technology’s potential to revolutionise design and manufacturing and create more sustainable and efficient production methods.

Researcher and designer Jessica Dias spoke about the power of biomaterials to revolutionize the field of design and create a more sustainable future. Michael Salka, Co-Director of IAAC Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings & Biocities and Technical Director of Valldaura Self-Sufficient Labs at IAAC, presented on “On the Origin of Buildings, or the Promotion of Favoured Value Chains in the Struggle for Life,” highlighting sustainable technologies’ potential to address current challenges in the built environment and pave the way for a better future.

Finally, Ioulietta Zindrou, a registered Architect Engineer and an Alumna of the Master in Advanced Architecture, spoke about her innovative and interdisciplinary approach to architecture, specifically her work on the “Technopolis Auditorium: an acoustic device.”

The event was recorded and will be available online soon.

In addition to the Alumni Talks, IAAC Alumni were also behind “Connected Ecologies,” one of the winning projects of the Digital Architecture MODEL Award. The installation was a web-based platform that encouraged users to imagine and engage with diverse scenarios for the city of Barcelona. The project was designed by Mathilde Marengo and Iacopo Neri, an IAAC Alumnus who graduated from the Master in City and Technology.

The evening’s Open Lecture was given by Marziah Zad, co-founder of Ashrafi & Zad Design and an IAAC Master in Advanced Architecture Alumna. She works at the intersection of design and the environment, showcasing projects that celebrate place and identity while exploring the limits of engineering and design. Zad’s talk demonstrated the challenges and rewards of a design methodology that combines structural inquiry with optimized design solutions and leverages digital tools to benefit communities. Marziah’s lecture was streamed online and is still available at this link.

The meeting ended on a high note, with a networking lunch held at IAAC Valldaura Labs in the beautiful setting of the Collserola Natural Park, where the Alumni enjoyed the chance to catch up with old friends and colleagues. The location held special significance, as many of the Alumni had not been back to Valldaura since celebrating their graduation there. It was a perfect way to conclude a two-days gathering that brought together talented and innovative minds from around the world.

The event was a great success, offering a glimpse into the incredible work being done by IAAC Alumni. The presentations showcased the potential of design and technology to create a more sustainable and equitable future and demonstrated the power of the IAAC community to drive innovation and progress in the field.


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