The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) presents the design of three key areas of the Mobile World Congress 2023: the Mobile World Capital, 4 Years From Now (4YFN) and the BEAT Barcelona. The installations can be visited from Monday, February 27th, until Thursday March 2, 2023 at Fira de Barcelona.

IAAC has been commissioned by the Mobile World Capital Foundation to design and manufacture the three main areas of the Mobile World Congress where the Barcelona City Council, and the city of Barcelona itself, will be represented. The congress, organised by GSMA, is the largest and most relevant mobile technology event in the world, which is expected to bring to Barcelona more than 80,000 people.

The three projects, which have been directed by Vicente Guallart and Daniel Ibañez, Founder and Director of IAAC respectively, have seen the participation of various IAAC Groups, Faculty, Students and Volunteers who, together with Partner Companies, collaborated to produce uniques designs that well represent the Institute’s ecological values.

The choice of using timber as the main construction material is part of the strategy promoted by MASS MADERA, a network of pioneers in industrialised solid wood construction, which involves city governments, companies, organisations and architects from around Spain.

This network, coordinated by IAAC and promoted by Build by Nature, has as its main objective to promote the development of mass timber construction, in order to reduce the CO2 emissions associated with the building sector.

Mobile World Capital Stage 

The central stage of the Mobile World Capital, located in the Hall 6, represents the municipality of Barcelona by hosting four immersive experiences that connect the Metaverse with the physical space of the city. The design proposal for this interactive area consists of a three-dimensional representation of the Coat of Arms of Barcelona, the official emblem of the City Council. The emblem is made up by three elements: a crown, a cross and four stripes. Each of those themes has been interpreted and developed by different teams.

The Crown has been designed by the students of the Master of Advanced Ecological Buildings and Bioicities, directed by the firm CODA (Computational Design Affairs). Along the design process, the team prototyped different models of joints and domes. The final result, which has been manufactured in the Valldaura Labs of IAAC, is a mesh with a double curvature, made with a three-layer board cut and folded-plate joints.

The design of the Cross takes inspiration from Antoni Gaudí’s models of three-dimensional crosses, in this case from a six-arm cross. The structure, which has been assembled by Tallfusta, is entirely built with Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panels made of Galician wood, produced by the local company Xilonor as the result of the sustainable management of the regional forests. The top floor of the Cross provides meeting spaces to the professionals attending the congress, while each of the four sides of its base accommodates the set for a unique sensory experience.

Harnessing the potential of computational design and digital manufacturing, the Columns’ installation represents a contemporary answer to the brief of designing four freestanding elements representing the stripes of the Catalonian emblem. Technically, the columns consist of precision-engraved firwood strips connected to a series of rings, which generate convex, concave and conical silhouettes using the principle of active bending. This principle is using the capacity of timber for elastic deformation to generate curvature without the need for lamination, steaming, or the use of formwork.

In contrast to their historical predecessors, the Columns designed by the Advanced Architecture Group of IAAC appear airy, transparent and dematerialized. Stone, the traditional material, is only present as the rubble filling the bottom, needed to weigh down the otherwise extremely lightweight and efficient timber structures.

4 Years From Now (4YFN) Stage

The 4YFN is the startup event of the Mobile World Congress. For the design of its stage, located in the Hall 8, the Advanced Architecture Group of IAAC proposed an experimental wooden project that overcomes the challenges of robotic additive fabrication through the application of parametric design and hand-craft work.

The installation is composed of two areas: a polyvalent space with tables that have been designed and fabricated using techniques of digital fabrication; and a virtual reality (Metaverse) area. Robotic additive fabrication technology is here applied to the design and installation of a backstage and two semi-closed structures entirely made of timber, achieving a parametrically controlled structural system.

Timber sticks have the virtue of being a low-impact, zero kilometre material. In this project, they could generate a system of components that are easy to transport, assemble and disassemble that can be completely reused after the event. The design solution is based on using a systematic strategy for the dimensions of the sticks, which optimizes and reduces the number of cuts. The repetitive system in the rotation of the frames, facilitates the manufacturing phase and allow to achieve interesting design results.

Over these considerations, the exploration of the possibilities offered by robotic manufacturing protocols has been coupled here with the study of computational design tools and several material tests. The resulting system allows great flexibility of design in order to meet different needs, qualities of wood and contexts, without losing the process and structural efficiency.

BEAT Barcelona Stage

Located on the North Access terrace of the fair, the BEAT Barcelona area blends art, design, technology, music and gastronomy by providing a space for activities and networking during the day, and technological experiences and music curated by Sónar, Cruïlla and MIRA Digital Arts Festival at nightfall.

For this stage, IAAC led the design of a sustainable and unique proposal that recreates the Barcelona coastline, from Besòs to Llobregat, featuring some of the most important landmarks of the city, such as the three chimneys of the Besòs?, the Ciutadella Park?, the Montjuïc hill? and the Port of Barcelona?.

Faculty and companies associated with IAAC have participated in the design and manufacturing of the installations that articulate this open-air space, inspired by the urban innovation map proposed by the Green Deal 2030.

The installation that represents the Montjuïc hill, and that will host performances by “Silent DJ”, has been developed by the firm CODA (Computational Design Affairs), and includes a tubular, reticular-shaped parametric structure made of thin wooden panels connected with metal plates.

TAKK Architects have been in charge of the design of the area that represents the Ciutadella Park, and that will be used by the Barcelona City Council to host conferences, debates and meetings. The piece is composed by a mesh of light metallic structures, defined by printed panels representing the natural elements of the park. The lighting design brings a domestic character to the outdoor space.

The Barcelona Port is situated at the east end, represented by wooden containers made by Hortalia, and will host several artistic and musical performances. At the west end, the three chimneys of Sant Adriá are reproduced on a 1:20 scale and will be used as a set for radio shows and interviews. A stage will also be installed around them, and concerts organized by the Sonar, Cruilla or MIRA festivals will be held every day.

These project, developed in collaboration with external industry partners and Mass Madera members such as Finsa and Miguel Nevado, underline the importance of the ecological and technological transition of cities, based on a sustainable architecture which allows construction with a reduced environmental impact, by using 100% natural, biodegradable, recyclable and local materials, such as wood?.

Design and Development: IAAC
Project Direction: Vicente Guallart, Daniel Ibañez
Executive Manager: Laia Pifarré
General Coordination: Cesar Tomé
Initial Conceptual Development: Suwapat Rodprasert, Pongpol Punjawaytegul
Design, Structural Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering: CODA (Computational Design Affairs) Gerard Bertomeu, Quim Escoda, Marc Serra, Enrique Soriano, Pep Tornabell
MAEBB Students: Austin Gregory Brown, Basant Abdelrahman, Carla Susana Alvear Arízaga, Jacek Antoni Kostrzewa, Jackie Williams, Julia Aurora Guzman Conde, Larsen Bidstrup, Raffaele Schiavello, Ruhani Adlakha, Sneham Pandey, Mariano, Rodriguez Alonso, Sadegh, (Ata) Raoufi Fard, Charles Louis Roger Casbolt, Aishwarya, Shyam Balsekar, Disha Arora, Indraneel Ravindra Joshi, Laila Nabulsi, Nicolas Rotta, Nishanth Maheshwaran, Pradyumna Lalit Vikharankar, Prati Mahavir Jain, Rujuta Chauhan, Shruti Sahasrabudhe, Santwana Malakar
Fabrication: Bruno Ganem, Lorenzo Salinas
Timber: Alberch

Design and Development: IAAC
Project Direction: Vicente Guallart, Daniel Ibañez
Executive Manager: Laia Pifarré
General Coordination: Cesar Tomé
Initial Conceptual Development: Suwapat Rodprasert, Pongpol Punjawaytegul
Design: Vicente Guallart, Daniel Ibañez
Development: Suwapat Rodprasert, Pongpol Punjawaytegul, Cesar Tome
Structure: Miguel Nevado
Fabrication: Xilonor, Grupo Finsa
Assemblage: Tallfusta, Ignasi Caus, Pol Giralt, Nela Butusina, Joan Carles de los Rios
Glass: Cristaleria Barcelona

Design and Development: IAAC
Project Direction: Vicente Guallart, Daniel Ibañez
Executive Manager: Laia Pifarré
General Coordination: Cesar Tomé
Initial Conceptual Development: Suwapat Rodprasert, Pongpol Punjawaytegul
Design Development: Raimund Krenmueller, Areti Markopoulou
CAM Automation: Federico Caldi
Construction Guru: Jesse Cotey
Fabrication/Setup: Team Students (Ekaterina Polyakova, Veljko Ilic, Faezeh Bolbol Anbaran, Dimitra Gavriela Roumelioti, Maryam Ashraf)
Fabrication/Setup: Team IAAC (Philipp Wienkaemper, Shyam Zonca, Sheikh Rizvi Riaz, Valentino Tagilaboschi)
Structure: YIP Engineering London, Manja van de Worp

4YFN Stage
Design and Development: IAAC
Project Direction: Vicente Guallart, Daniel Ibañez
Executive Manager: Laia Pifarré
General Coordination: Cesar Tomé
Design Team: Alexandre Dubor
Fabrication Expert, Design, Coordination, Management: Ricardo Mayor Luque
Wood experts, Engineering & Production: Hendrik Benz and Jessey Cotey

Design and Development: IAAC
Project Direction: Vicente Guallart, Daniel Ibañez
Executive Manager: Laia Pifarré
General Coordination: Cesar Tomé
Design, Structural Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering: CODA (Computational Design Affairs) Gerard Bertomeu, Enrique Soriano, Pep Tornabell, Angel Antequera, Miquel Benedicto
Collaborators: Imma Bigas Andols, Samuel Gaspart, Juan Carlos Rodriguez Serrano, Adriana Moreno, Miquel Collado
Assemblage: Bruno Ganem, Lorenzo Salinas, Shyam Zonca, Philip Wienkamper
Students: Alex Ferragu, Diego Vazquez, Aswin Kumar, Perniyal Waseem, Kayla Sit, Rahma Hassan, Yerwant Megurditchian, Cansu Kilinc, Faezeh Bolbol Anbaran, Nicolas Rotta
Fabrication: Sumeplast
Lighting: Luz Negra

Project Direction: Vicente Guallart, Daniel Ibañez
Executive Manager: Laia Pifarré
General Coordination: Cesar Tomé
Design: TAKK // Mireia Luzarraga + Alejandro Muiño
Collaborators: Roger Monfort, Berta Ribaudi
Construction: La Fiebre, Manolo Valdés, Laura Morán
Printing: CopyPrint, Ricardo Marina
Assemblage: Bruno Ganem, Lorenzo Salinas, Shyam Zonca, Philipp Wienkaemper
Students: Aswin Kumar, Vishakha Darshan, Aishwarya Arun, L’emir Karim Abillama, Naohiro Miyaguchi


Photos of the installations: Adrià Goula