IAAC - Institute for advanced architecture of Catalonia - Barcelona

Self Sufficiency

Introducing a new cycle of architectural eco-infrastructure that promotes the regeneration of local and native plant species within the Valldaura region. Wind vibration energy acts as a platform for new dialog between ecological systems and human interaction. AmpLeaf is a synthesized smart surface which is integrated into the anatomy of the forest to experiment from within, using energy directly harvested from the ecosystem and its many agents rather than energy from existing power grids.

AmpLeaf: Ecological Resonance

With the rise of a new generation of technologies capable of integration on a nano-level, we, as designers, are able to think about our environments on a different scale and recognize the emergent logics which can be tapped into for experimentation. This project aims to make social impacts on the ecosystem, encouraging birds and animals to gather around targeted flora and fauna native to (or marginalized from) the Valldaura region. The goal is to develop infrastructure that works in sync with existing systems, lessening the disparity between densities of biodiversity in the region and creating a richer and more competitive environment.

Valldaura Self Sufficient Labs

Site occupies an optimal spot for the exploration of biosphere rejuvenation through passive systems. Located in the Collserola National Park, it is one of many sites that have experienced a notable decrease in diversity of plant and animal life due to nearby development. Many studies by CERFA and the Park Consortium have correlated the subdivision and transformation of land with the marginalization of specific species, their resulting relocation and, in some cases, disappearance from the area.

Project Objectives

Through simple, integrated and ecologically sensitive interventions, this project aims to catalyze the slow process of bio-regeneration. Conceptually, it follows four basic pillars of environmental design:

Key Terms of Study

Product Specifications

AmpLeaf is designed to fit the needs of on-site customization and adaptability. All components are included in a minimally packaged format. Each ‘control’ sheet is embedded with the electronics required for energy harvesting, conversion, and light and sound emission. One additional sheet without electronics is provided and can be installed with the control sheet to enhance material reverberation and increased production.

Energy Production

Energry production with AmpLeaf is simple. As wind flows over and between the surfaces, vibration occurs along the rigid materials, activating the nano-generating piezos. Energy is transferred to the ‘control’ corner, where it is stored for use in powering lights and sounds.  An integrated LDR light sensor in the FLORA microcontroller takes a light reading after each programmed sleep interval (typical interval is approx 30 min). Based on a value of 1 (daytime), the speaker is activated, playing the programmed bird sound. Based on a value of zero (night), the neopixel LEDs are activated until the next reading.

Variation in the voltage input to energy harvester is due to the variation in generation of current from the piezos, which fluctuates according to material reverberation in the surface. Energy produced from the piezos is trickled into the NI-MH battery over time. Output from the harvester to the battery is constant, albeit in small amounts. Output from the battery to the rest of the system via the FLORA occurs at the the 30-minute programmed interval, and differs depending on the function as determined by the light reading.

Social and Ecological Implications

Unlike conventional wind energy harvesters, this device is quiet and embedded into nature. Using wind vibration energy offers a solution to micro-production of energy which operates at a very low frequency and high level of integration due to the fact that it responds not only to windspeed, but also to its direct environment. The cycle of output from the device is directly linked to the amount of energy input in the surrounding by wind, movements of animals, and human-induced environmental changes.

Ecological Agents of Interest:

Furthermore to its ecological programs, the surface performs another function at night. When light levels reach a certain low, energy from the storage device will be directed towards the production of lights through Neopixel LEDs which are sewn into the fabric.  The intention is to create spaces which are usable by both humans and animals for the enrichment of the area’s biodiversity.

Future Growth


In 2014 AmpLeaf was on exhibit in the Barcelona Llum Festival (Festival of Lights) as part of the IaaC installation entitled ‘Dada’.   2 more AmpLeafs were fabricated for the installation, one of which was 40% bigger. Below are pictures from the event, which took place from February 7-9 in the patio of Museu Marès.

Amp Leaf is a project of IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (www.iaac.net) developed in the Introductory Studio of the Master of Advanced Architecture Program in 2014 by:
Student: Kateryna Rogynska, Ramin Shambayati, Robert Douglas McKaye, Sahil Sharma
Faculty: Javier Peña, Rodrigo Rubio, Oriol Carrasco