The Voxel is a prototype technologically advanced green building, built exclusively with locally sourced natural materials to support the development of a circular bioeconomy in the construction industry.
An architectural response to the current pandemic, The Voxel was designed as a place to safely self-quarantine. A standalone structure near Barcelona, it was the work of a team of students, professionals, and experts connected with the Masters in Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities (MAEBB) degree at Valldaura Labs, a campus of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC).
The building was designed and built as part of the 2019–20 MAEBB coursework, with input from course leaders Daniel Ibáñez and Vicente Guallart, energy consultant Oscar Aceves, water consultant Jochen Scheerer, and the architects Elena Orte and Guillermo Sevillano. Construction took just five months, transforming the forest of Collserola, Barcelona, into the epicenter of an ambitious green architecture project.
The structure can accommodate one occupant for fourteen days, providing all the tools they’ll need for self-quarantine.
The main building material used was 130 square feet (12 m2) of Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) cross-laminated timber. The wood was dried, trimmed, assembled, and pressed on site. All the timber used in the project was collected within a radius of less than one kilometer from the site.
The project contributes to the shift towards a new generation of green buildings constructed using CLT, a material that’s fast becoming a cornerstone of creating buildings that combat climate change.
The Voxel has three solar panels and an independent battery storage system designed specifically to meet the energy needs of a single resident. Both rainwater collection and gray water recycling systems are used to cover water needs, while an autonomous biogas system treats sewage and generates fuel for cooking and heating.
The Voxel is tangible proof of how close we are to an advanced green architectural paradigm that combines the exclusive use of local materials with industrial construction techniques.
Architect: Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) Valldaura Labs
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Photography by © Adrià Goula
courtesy of Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) Valldaura Labs
Academic Coordination by: Michael Salka
Developed by: Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings and Biocities students, class of 2020: Alex Hadley, Anfisa Mishchenko, Sena Kocaoğlu, Camille Garnier, Dania Aburouss, Ester Camps Bastida, Filippo Vegezzi, Giada Mirizzi, Juan Gabriel Secondo, Maitri Joy Uka, Camila Fajardo, Nathalie Botbol, Shreya Sharma, Yue Zhang, Zhiqian Liu, Rafael Abboud, Irene Rodriguez Perez