Barcelona - 15th and 16th of November 2019


Responsive Cities is a bi-annual international symposium on the future of cities organized by the Advanced Architecture Group of IAAC. The 2019 edition focuses on “Disrupting through Circular Design” within the framework of the Creative Food Cycles (CFC) project, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and developed by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, the Leibniz University of Hannover and the University of Genoa.


It is clear that what comes next for our buildings and cities is a future full of challenges. With more than half of the world’s population currently living in cities, and 70% expected to by 2050, urban areas face huge pressure to meet their residents’ needs. Increased urbanisation is pushing for cities to respond through more accessible housing, energy, food and water, as well as more efficient transportation systems. This is resulting in an undeniable rise of resource consumption, and ultimately resulting in growing amounts of greenhouse gas emissions and waste. Moreover, with buildings being responsible for 40% of energy consumption, 36% of CO2 emissions, and the building industry being one of the heaviest waste generators globally, it is indispensable for architecture to respond, pushing for alternative design and construction models, moving away from the current prevailing models-both intensely resources-consuming and contaminating.

In parallel, and as a result of rising environmental awareness, a process of rethinking and replacing traditional non-adaptive and “linear systems” of “make, use and dispose” is ongoing, underlined by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Theories and models targeted at enhancing environmental performance, or taking inspiration from natural processes, have been developed and consolidated, such as “cradle to cradle”, “blue economy”, or “biomimicry”. Among these, “Circular design”, that is based on “non-linear” and circular systems aiming to close or limit material and resource loss, and has the potential to minimize waste, using this as a resource in itself, as highlighted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, finally creating new opportunities for design.

The circular design model is already being tested and implemented in the fields of construction and urban planning. For instance, the development of novel and engineered material libraries are often shifting towards more organic, natural, recycled or recyclable consistencies while technologies of material science or synthetic biology become crucial for their development. Manufacturing and construction processes, additionally, are revisited with the goal to reduce waste and costs, as well as optimize the use of local materials, taking advantage of technologies such as robotics and additive manufacturing or novel processes of human-machine collaboration. On top of this, the creation of new building typologies, uses for public space and urban infrastructure promotes the production, optimization and distributed management of resources, such as food, renewable energy, waste or water. Prevailing models, based on contaminating, consuming and static buildings and cities, give way to built spaces that reclaim, produce, manage, and reuse or transform, resources, as well as thinking in resonance with their users and the environment.

The notions of materialising, managing, and constructing are changing: the Responsive Cities symposium’s objective is to investigate how innovative and advanced technologies in the field of design (i.e. biotechnology, big data analysis, predictive modelling, engineered materials, digital manufacturing, etc.) can help to enhance and strengthen the implementation of circular processes in the urban environment.

-How can circular design disrupt linear patterns of extractive consumption, towards design scenarios where the urban environment becomes productive and healing in itself?

-Which digital technologies have the power to enhance the performance of and with our urban built environment?

-How can architectural design secure circularity in cities and contribute to the UN SDG goals of sustainable consumption and production patterns?

The main focus of the Symposium is placed on key concepts such as designing for flexible uses and systems integration; performing through circular feedback systems; adapting with nature-based solutions; building for resource recovery, or learning through advancements related to technological innovation. As protagonists in the creation of urban, built and public space, we can guide decisions towards more circular choices, and build local partnerships with businesses, across disciplines, moving towards a responsive circular city.

The Responsive Cities Symposium_Disrupting through Circular Design is organized around the following topics:

  • DESIGN – multi-programming | hybrid simulations | predictive modelling | non-linear systems

  • BUILD – circular construction | on-site manufacturing | resource recovery

  • ADAPT – nature-based solutions | advanced and bio materials | synthetic ecologies

  • PERFORM – self-organization | circular feedback systems | autonomous behavior

  • SHARE – participatory design  | blockchain | sharing economies

  • LEARN – new educational models | applied research | making | raise awareness


The speakers for the Symposium will be announced shortly.


The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) with the Advanced Architecture Group and the BUILD Solutions project partners are launching the Call for Papers for Responsive Cities 2021, a global platform to experiment and rethink urban environments in response to today’s global challenges.
This Call aims to boost the reflection on how the integration of technologically enhanced NBS in cities can generate innovative visions, methodologies, and solutions.
- Can the use of  technologies support NBS integration in cities with the final goal to enhance the provision of ecosystem services?
- How can we strengthen social relations through the implementation of innovative NBS?
Will the technology-mediated implementation of NBS in cities lead to the development of innovative business models targeted at addressing current urban challenges? 
The Responsive Cities Symposium: Design with Nature is organized around the following topics:
DESIGN – bio-design | environmental feedback | collective intelligence
BUILD – reintegrating nature | digital fabrication | new bio-inspired planning paradigms
ADAPT – nature-based solutions | biotechnology | black ecologies
PERFORM – living systems | increased liveability | ecosystem services
SHARE – participatory design  | novel virtual environments for co-design | symbiosis
LEARN – new educational models | applied research | making
  • Extended Abstract Submission: 19th September 2021
  • Selection of participants: 3rd October 2021 
  • Deadline for full paper: 7th November 2021
  • Symposium dates: 11th-12th November 2021
The proposals must without exception be drafted in English.
The paper submission will take place in two stages. The first stage will include a submission of an extended abstract that will be subject to a blind peer review process. Those abstracts selected will be invited to submit the final paper as part of the second stage and will receive the submission details. 
Extended Abstracts Details:
Extended abstracts should have 1000 to 1500 words. They should include the following information: title, abstract, keywords, session that best fits into (design/ perform/build/adapt/share/learn), main text (introduction, methodology, findings/conclusions) and references. Extended abstracts can also contain figures, tables, and/or images, which are not included in the word count. Author/s and affiliation should not be included in the extended abstract submission, as they will be subject to a blind peer review process. 
Please upload your extended abstract here as a single Word (.doc or .docx) and .pdf document using the template provided by 19th September 2021.
Copyright: all parts of the submitted materials (including text and photographs), must either be authored by the person/people submitting, or they must have the rights to use and publish them.
Extended abstracts will undergo blind peer reviews and those accepted will be invited to submit a paper. Submission of extended abstracts implies the author’s agreement to publish the extended abstracts and paper in the conference proceedings publication, including the website. 
All contributions will be collected in a digital publication with an ISBN code.
Senior 350,00 € / Junior 200,00 € (VAT included) 
Note: over 40 are considered Senior (details on payment method will be given to all selected authors) The fee also includes the participation to the social dinner for one person.
* Note the Symposium is free to attend. The fees are solely for the call for papers.
The jury will be announced shortly here on the website.
If you have any specific question about this Call, do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]


The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) and the BUILD Solutions project partners are proud to announce the Design with Nature Contest, a global platform to experiment and rethink urban environments in response to today’s global challenges.
This Call aims to boost the reflection on how the integration of NBS in cities through technologies can generate innovative visions, methodologies, and solutions.
  • Can technologies help integrate NBS in cities in order to enhance the provision of ecosystem services? 
  • How can we strengthen social relations through the implementation of innovative NBS? 
  • Can the technology-mediated implementation of NBS in cities lead to the development of innovative business models targeted at addressing current urban challenges? 
This Contest is looking for innovative visions for the city of the future where design optimized to integrate nature can transform urban spaces into systems to live, produce, and restore the environment. 
This Contest is oriented towards students and professionals from all over the world to make a design proposal. It is targeted at professionals and students coming from all disciplines, including design, engineering, landscape, biology, agronomy, business, and arts. 
The Registration is FREE, and the competition entries should be submitted digitally in PDF files via an online form (see below).
The proposals should comply with the following criteria:
  • Being a design proposal, it should address one of the following scales: global, regional, urban, neighborhood, architectural, product design. 
  • Every proposal should be presented in three (3) vertical DIN A-3 panels
  • The panels should contain the following information: title, short description, drawings. Optional: renders, pictures of prototypes. 
  • Proposals should be submitted in English. 
  • Panels should be anonymous. At the bottom right part of each panel you need to insert a code of six mixed letters and numbers (which you will need to insert this code in your application form).
  • Each panel should be submitted in PDF format. The size of each file must not exceed 1MB.
  • OPTIONAL > Video: In addition to the 3 DIN A-3 panels, you have the option to submit a 1 minute (maximum) video to explain, in a few words, the key concepts of your proposal. Please use English subtitles even if you are speaking English. (It is not mandatory to speak in the video, you may also use text, images, animation etc). To submit the video: First upload the video to YouTube, then paste the YouTube link to the video section of the submission.

This Call is a great opportunity for students and professionals to showcase their talent:
  • The best project will win a scholarship for the Master in Advanced Architecture 1 year program at IAAC, for the academic year of 2022/23
  • Selected projects will be published in a online publication with ISBN
  • The best 10 entries will be exhibited in the BUILDs final event exhibition to be held in November 2021. Moreover, they will be promoted in the BUILDs webpage and social media accounts and their authors will be included in the BUILDs talent network. 
  • The Call will be open until 30 September 2021, 23:59h CEST.
  • Selected entries will be announced by 15 October 2021.



The Responsive Cities Symposium will also host an International Exhibition where BUILDs students and selected companies will showcase their Nature-Based Solutions prototypes.
Stay tuned for more information, coming soon!


CaixaForum: The Social and Cultural Centre of “la Caixa” Banking Foundation in Barcelona
Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8, 08038 Barcelona, Spain

Organised by

General chair:
Areti Markopoulou
Program chairs: Chiara Farinea and Mathilde Marengo
Symposium coordination: Fiona Demeur

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