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What does it all mean for an architect? Geography, “soil and blood”, I mean. Is it destiny?

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture

Luigi Ghirri, Marina di Ravenna

Today we publish an article written by Nathan Romero Muelas, a Spanish architect living in Denmark for more than ten years now. The article has been published in the danish blog

Immigration is setting Europe in a defensive mode, a state of mind that politically ranges from reluctance to paying lip service to universal solidarity. At the same time, we architects, and not only in Denmark, are busy again with questions of national identity and cultural legacy. Within academia and other architecture institutions, eyes are turning inwards to examine, for instance, all things “Nordic”. There are seminars galore on Nordic urbanism, or for example, on the possibility of a Nordic high-rise.

I’m interested in the timing of these two phenomena. Introspection is important. I guess societies, like human beings, need periodic diving into the oracular “know thyself “ of the Greeks. It usually happens when they feel questioned, or under pressure. I would like to know if this insistence in what we are, (Nordic or whatever), shares this menaced condition.

There have never been so many foreign architects and architecture students, working and living in Denmark. However, how different the situation, the mood, from not yet fifteen years ago, when I first arrived in Denmark. The Europan competition, the Erasmus program: Europe seemed open and enjoying, if I’m not mistaken, a moment of expansive optimism. Today foreigners populate our studios, working as interns mostly, in economic conditions at times worse than their Danish peers. They resemble more the southern immigration of the sixties, a working force that for some threatens the professional establishment, the architectonic version of the very publicised Polish travelling construction workers in Denmark.


But home is best 

In a refreshing essay, (“Drømmen om de smaa samfund”, 1977), Steen Eiler Rasmussen lucidly demolishes the myth of a well functioning small society. He remembers a priest during the German occupation of Denmark. After having spent some time at the Frøslev concentration camp, this priest praised emphatically the experience in the camp. It was a humane experience he wouldn’t have liked to miss: under a common pressure, facing a common enemy, solidarity, mutual care and….a certain cosiness (“hygge”), flourished!

The Biannual competition Europan, with all its limitations and flaws, is a visionary idea, the perfect antidote to nationalist architecture. In the next edition, Denmark has decided not to participate. I imagine there are well founded motives, and surely unrelated to my reasoning here. But let me propose a perverse motive, for argument´s sake: the outcome of Europan is uncontrollable, in principle everybody can win. There follows a compromise, (sadly a weak compromise, in some countries), to build the winning project. Now, let’s say a Chinese architect wins. Frankly folks, what can a Chinese architect possibly know about the arcane secrets of Nordic light? And more importantly: where do we fit this Chinese in the promotion politics of Danish architecture?


Photo: Kim Høltermand

Soil, blood and onions

Ever since I arrived to Denmark I have had the unsettling words of the Spanish architect Jose Antonio Coderch at the back of my mind. In 1960 he wrote an essay-manifesto, which was interesting, coming from the most individualist of architects. Its title was It is not geniuses we need know. In it, he wrote: “Let architects work with a rope tied to one leg, to stop them from staying too far from the earth where they have their roots, and the people they know best”. It made then a lot of sense: facing the all pervasive international style, it was a call for attention to the remainder of local building traditions but also hints at the idea that the artist, the architect, should only talk about what he knows well. And that meant then his origin. Despite of his connections to the Smithson’s, his belonging to Team 10 and winning the Milan Triennale golden medal in 1951, Coderch never really left Barcelona. But today I would argue that the exception is an architect that spends his entire life in the place he was born.

I go back to Altea, the Mediterranean town where I was born. I haven’t been here for a long time.  Instantly upon arrival, I realize I’m home. That is, my body does. It remembers. The pine trees, the agave, the hills. And, yes, the light, different from any other, and very dear to me. But then I realize that I have spent more time in Copenhagen or Madrid than in Altea, which I left at thirteen. What does it all mean for an architect?  Geography, “soil and blood”, I mean. Is it destiny?

I start thinking about notions like Mediterranean, and then Nordic. These are rich, multilayered concepts, and deserving all the scholarly attention they can get…provided we understand that we will not find a single valuable work of architecture that is pure, that isn’t changed, enlivened by the crossing of frontiers. Jacobsen, Aalto, Asplund, Utzon, carry their Mediterranean experience all through their work.  Sota, Fisac, Moneo, (who worked for Utzon), were in turn transformed by the Nordic lesson.


Because despite my beloved Coderch and today’s pushers of national architectures, architects do choose now the soil they live and work on. Unlike onions.

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Archiprix International – ecosistema urbano takes part in the Awards ceremony

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+creativity+ecosistema urbano+events+urban social design+urbanism


In the past two weeks, Madrid has been the capital of the most innovative and vibrant ideas coming from the academic environment worldwide. In fact, Madrid was chosen for the 2015 edition of Archiprix International, a biennial event that involves all schools worldwide in Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture to select their best graduation project.

The event consisted of two sections:

Towards a middle-out urbanism

All participants were invited to participate in the Archiprix International workshop, that took place at ETSAM. These best graduates from around the world form a unique group of young talented designers. From surgical interventions to visionary statements: the best graduates from all over the world were invited to Madrid and challenged to develop plans and design proposals in a multidirectional approach to the city. The workshop was conducted by DPA-ETSAM and Los Bandidos AG and tasks were led by emerging local practices.


We were invited to be part of the jury to evaluate the projects resulted from the 7-day workshops and to present our overview and conclusions about this work during the final Award Ceremony that took place at Cine Callao on Friday May 8th.


In our talk we reflected on the topics that emerged throughout the different proposals and groups. In addition to this, we presented our vision of how designers and architects need to equipe themselves to be able to deal with contemporary urban issues, what we understand is the new designer’s role and the importance of incorporating new tools in architecture.


Belinda Tato talking about the variety of topics related to architecture


Jose Luis Vallejo explaining the concept of “one-man band” in architecture


Iñigo Cornago talking about the importance of bottom up actions


Four projects from the Archiprix workshops

Archiprix International Madrid 2015

Extensive presentation of the world’s best graduation projects, selected by 351 schools from 87 countries.


Map of participants in Archiprix 2015

The jury comprised Eduardo Arroyo, Luis Fernández-Galiano, architect and editor of Arquitectura Viva, Anupama Kundoo, architect with her own practice in Auroville (India) since 1990; Zhenyu Li; and French landscape architect Catherine Mosbach. The jury reviewed all submitted entries at the ETSAM | UPM – Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, the co-organizer of the eighth edition of Archiprix International. The jury nominated 21 projects for the Hunter Douglas Awards and selected 7 winners out of these nominees.


Winners of Archiprix International

Here you can have a look at all the selected projects and the seven winning projects.

The 9th edition of Archiprix International -2017- will be held in Ahmedabad, India.

It has been a great pleasure to be part of this inspiring event and getting a chance to see and hear how the most talented architects are thinking throughout the world.

We wish all of them the best luck for their brand new careers!

More info about Archiprix 

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Matthieu Darcourt | eu collaborators

Category: ⚐ EN+colaboradores+ecosistema urbano

Today we introduce Matthieu Darcourt, an architecture student who has been doing a short internship with us, bringing the French language back to the office after a couple of years… Here is what he tells us:

Matthieu Darcourt

Matthieu Darcourt

I’m a student in architecture at the National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) of Strasbourg in France, and I will graduate in October 2014. I had the opportunity to travel a lot especially during my Erasmus in Budapest and my internship here at ecositema urbano in Madrid. I believe there is no such thing as losing yourself in an unknown city in order to discover it’s deeper essence, culture and personality. As an architect and as a person, I am really interested in this balance between big cities and traditional culture, and Madrid is a beautiful example of it: a 21st century city with a village atmosphere.

Matthieu Darcourt in Budapest

Matthieu Darcourt in Budapest

During my internship at ecosistema urbano, I had the chance to think about it when writting an article about situationist theories and urban participation. Indeed, thanks to their blog, they take some time to think and research concerning urban social design, so it creates a stimulating and creative atmosphere and projects. I found really interesting the original project approach they have, including social networks, technologies, and creative commons, questioning urban landscape and social life. Finally, I enjoyed the nice atmosphere of the studio, especially during cooking time! Thanks again.

Occupation: Architecture student
Interests: Architecture, Anthropology, Sculpture, Cities
City/country: Strasbourg, FR
Web: Portfolio

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Claudio Marras | eu collaborators

Category: ⚐ EN+colaboradores+ecosistema urbano

Today we introduce Claudio Marras, a young architect who is doing an internship with us, taking part in various aspects of our work… and also bringing a great Italian touch to our lunchbreak! Let him tell us a couple of things about himself:

A young dreamer architect.

Passion, Curiosity and Perseverance: I want to travel, I want to see, I want to know.

Architect evolution

Architect evolution

Hello everybody, I am Claudio Marras a 30 years old italian architect come from Sardinia, Italy. I will try to synthesize my life with 3 simple keywords.

Passione (passion)

From from child to young adult

Once upon a time

A life lived wrapped by passion. Food, travel, sport, people, ART… Born in a creative and art-loving family, I was easily able to discover and explore different worlds. Living in a island I had, from the beginning, the pleasure (and necessity) to go abroad.
I lived in Croatia, Usa, Spain and Germany and I traveled throughout most of Europe.

Curiositá (curiosity)

From external world to myself

From Praha with love

From Praha with love

Each place/person could teach you something. It’s up to you understand the way to acquire knowledge from it. Every place can be different for everyone, it’s the culture and meaning behind it that matters and makes it special and unique for every one. It is not only the place, it is also the experience.

As an architect I have to design the space in relation with local dynamics and needs, trying to involve those who will use that space into the process.

Determinazione (perseverance)

From Valencia to Punto d’Incontro

Different forms of urban attraction. The Turia’s park of Valencia for a cultural conversion of spare time

Different forms of urban attraction.
The Turia’s park of Valencia for a cultural conversion of spare time

Social Architect

My architecture thesis project (2007) was the synthesis of my mindset and my professional way of seeing urbanism and architecture: bottom up architecture, social approach, participatory process. The project’s AIM was to find a social and cultural way to convert the spare time of the people. The idea was to give to everyone the opportunity to know and exchange skills and competencies in a public space coordinated by the Time-based currency system. The project was studied for the river park of Valencia, Spain.

Starting from these theoretical input, I’m developing it in a practical way trough Punto d’incontro (Meeting point) project. It is a box that contains active and creative groups or people who work for the re-appropriation of public space through a participatory process. Artists, professionals, and experts interact with the local population to involve people in a urban renewal.




Bachelor Degree of Territorial, Urban and Environmental Planning in 2005.
Master Degree on Architecture in 2007.
Freelance architect from 2009 with a Certificate of Site Safety Coordinators (2012).

Currently a Post-Master student of Urban Research Lab Sardinia – Environmental Design in the University of Sassari (Sardinia) in partnership with Dessau Institute of Architecture (DIA) of Anhalt University of Applied Sciences where I spend the first part of the Master (5 moths).

more information on LinkedIn profile

In times like these, escape is the only way to stay alive and keep dreaming.

In times like these, escape is the only way to stay alive and keep dreaming.

In tempi come questi la fuga è l’unico mezzo per mantenersi vivi e continuare a sognare.

In times like these, escape is the only way to stay alive and keep dreaming.

Henry Laborit, from the italian movie: Mediterraneo

Here is a short summary about Claudio:

cla 2Occupation: Freelance Architect
Interests: urbanism, architecture, design, social, community
City/country: Sassari, Italy
Web: Punto d’Incontro
Online profiles: Facebook, LinkedIn

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Ecosistema Urbano at the IE Master in Architectural Design

Category: ⚐ EN+ecosistema urbano+news

ie master in architectural design - click to visit official page

Jose Luis Vallejo and Belinda Tato will be taking part in the IE Master in Architectural Design kicking off this Autum in Madrid.

The IE Master in Architectural Design seeks to bridge the gap between the existing fragmented post-professional architecture courses and the ever shifting reality of the professional practice. This will lead to a strengthening of two fundamental foundations of the profession: scientific-technological knowledge and an awareness of the underlying contemporary cultural base. This knowledge, combined with entrepreneurial and management skills, clearly plays a key role in understanding the complexity and scope of the profession when it comes to preparing architects to lead interdisciplinary professional teams.

You can read more about the program, faculty, facilities and admissions at the Official website

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Last days for registration | International Summer School in Sardinia

Category: ⚐ EN+ecosistema urbano+events+sustainability+urbanism

Solanas from Capo Boi hillsummer university

Next Thursday June 20th registration will be closed for the International Summer School, in which more than 20 teachers and 40 students will develop new forms of architecture, particularly related to tourism, in the valley of Solanas and in the coastal area in the south-eastern part of Sardinia.

Did you miss that call? Here is the original post about it: Coastal Landscape Architectures | International Summer School in Sardinia

Visiting Solanas

Important information:

Registration is closing on June 20th!

Save the dates: July 3rd – July 13th
Special deal for European students: 50 € fee + 100 € for 10 days lodging
Learn more about this experience:

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Coastal Landscape Architectures | International Summer School in Sardinia

Category: ⚐ EN+ecosistema urbano+events+sustainability+urbanism

Solanas from Capo Boi hillsummer university

Starting July 3rd, Jose Luis Vallejo and Belinda Tato from ecosistema urbano will be joining more than 20 teachers and 40 studens in an International Summer School organized in the valley of Solanas (Sardinia) by Department of Architecture, Design and Urban Planning at the University of Sassari in collaboration with the Municipality of Sinnai.

Where is Solanas?

The objective of the Summer school is to develop new forms of architecture, particularly related to tourism, in the valley of Solanas and in the coastal area in the south-eastern part of Sardinia. The development of new forms of architecture in coastal areas requires alternative approaches to the traditional scenarios of seasonal tourism. Teachers, students and public servants will be working together to face challenges related to the economically instable and unfavourable conditions created by seasonal tourism. The environmental contexts studied are sensitive and fragile, yet, at the same time, they are sites of great potential for developing innovative solutions and new uses. The activities of the workshop will aim at enhancing this potential by using the specific qualities and resources of the various contexts presented in the area.

If you are studying in Europe, you will get a special deal: Students coming from European universities only have to pay 50 euros for fee + 100 euros for 10 days for lodging + travel (there are cheap low cost flights to Cagliari).

And you’ll get to spend those 10 days learning, collaborating, walking and bathing in front of this great landscape… so don’t think for too long, registration is closing in 10 days!

Visiting Solanas

Important information:

Registration is closing on June 15th! Edit: June 20th.
Save the dates: July 3rd – July 13th
Cost for European students: 50 € fee + 100 € for 10 days lodging
Learn more about this experience:

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International summer course (update) | Urban design and sustainable architecture

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+sustainability+urbanism

Architecture in Alicante

The international summer course in Alicante we presented a couple of months ago is finally going to happen!

So far, 14 international – from quite diverse places like the US, Ucrania, Lebanon or South Corea – and 8 local students have already registered, and the University of Alicante just extended the registration period over June, so you still have a chance to join!

More Than Green international summer course

Sustainability is not just an environmental issue but, and above all, a social, cultural and economic one. This course about URBAN DESIGN and SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE proposes a complex incursion within the subject of sustainability understood not only as a problem but as an opportunity to meet new approaches to the city in a creative, innovative, playful and unprejudiced way.

Sustainability in an international environment: Experts in sustainability, teaching and design from all around the world meet in Alicante.
Learning by the sea: Meet friends from all around the world and enjoy the Mediterranean culture, a different way of understanding architecture, the city and life.
Challenging yourself: A fresh and playful approach to sustainable design.
Finding your way: We offer a wide variety of thematic contents as well as plenty of activities for your free time.


We will be taking part with PLAYstudio – the organizers –, Transsolar and Urban Think Tank. Looking forward to meet you there!

Place and date: University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain. 15-26th July 2013
Learn more: International summer course (by the sea)Versión en español
Official website:

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ecosistema urbano in Sarajevo, Bosnia

Category: ⚐ EN+events+news


Next Saturday May 18th, Belinda Tato will be giving a lecture at the Dani Arhitekture, Days of Architecture 2013 in Sarajevo, Bosnia, presenting the most recent works of ecosistema urbano, among which is dreamhamar from Norway.

This year’s event title is Common space, inviting participants to reflect about the meaning of the common:

What is a common space on a city scale?
How do we create a positive interaction and encourage more citizens to an active use and participation in creating these areas?
What is the role of architects, urbanists, politicians?
Are architects simply creators, removed from the users, or are they mediators in this process, where every user himself becomes the creator of space?

These are some of the questions around which the different participants will discuss and share their experiences.

Other lecturers will be: Raumlabor, Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée, Glamourmanifest, Archipelagos and many others.

For more info:
About the lecture: Belinda Tato at Daniarhitekture

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International summer course (by the sea) | Urban design and sustainable architecture

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+sustainability+urbanism

More Than Green international summer course

The people behind More Than Green have organized a great summer course on July 15-26, 2013 in the mediterranean city of Alicante (Spain), where we will also be taking part together with PLAYstudio, Transsolar and Urban Think Tank.

Sustainability is not just an environmental issue but, and above all, a social, cultural and economic one. This course about URBAN DESIGN and SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE proposes a complex incursion within the subject of sustainability understood not only as a problem but as an opportunity to meet new approaches to the city in a creative, innovative, playful and unprejudiced way.

More Than Green

Contents + Objectives

Architecture in Alicante

Improve your design skills: based on an open criticism of the “only green” approach for the construction of our future sustainable cities, this course offers a much wider, complex and playful perspective at the same time. Students will combine the design of a team project –about an specific case‐ with the supervision of guest experts and their master classes.

Build a knowledge frame –examples of good practices told by guest experts‐ where students take consciousness of the importance of broadening their understanding of sustainability according to the new world policies.

Create a typical multicultural situation of an international course where students coming from different places exchange their various backgrounds and modes of undertaking the sustainable urban project. The diversity of the faculties contributes to enrich this situation.

Methodology + Course Structure

Architecture in Alicante

Master classes, teamwork and project reviews within the context of four different ways of understanding sustainability: ENVIRONMENTALLY, SOCIALLY, ECONOMICALLY and CULTURALLY.



DIRECTOR: José Luis Oliver Ramírez  (University of Alicante) + TRANSSOLAR: Matthias Schuler (Harvard GSD) + URBAN-THINK TANK: Alfredo Brillembourg (ETH Zurich) + ECOSISTEMA URBANO: Belinda Tato y Jose Luis Vallejo (Harvard GSD) + PLAYstudio: Iván Capdevila y Vicente Iborra (University of Alicante)

Alicante + Free time

Lively Alicante at dusk

It’s summer, you’re by the coast… who would dare to keep you away from having fun?  Within the course structure, it is programmed a considerable amount of free time so the students can visit other cities or some interesting spots on the surroundings, enjoy the sun and the beach, or take part in different summer activities organized by the University of Alicante.


University of Alicante

The University of Alicante offers you a wide range of facilities and affordable accommodation in several lovely locations from the historic city centre to the university campus surroundings.

You can download the brochure here: MTG International Summer Course  – PDF
For a more information on fees, acommodation, organization, etc. check the official website: