Responsive Cities Symposium 2021: Design with Nature

Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia

11th-12th November 2021

The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) is conducting the final symposium of the BUILD Solutions Project in Barcelona to be held from the 11th-12th November 2021. Responsive Cities is a bi-annual international symposium on the future of cities organized by the Advanced Architecture Group of IAAC.

The 2021 edition focuses on “Design with Nature” and takes place within the framework of the Building Urban Intelligent Living Design Solutions (BUILDs) project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and developed by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia – IAAC- (Spain), Université de Lorraine -UL- (France), Vienna University of Economics and Business -WU- (Austria), Ersilia Foundation (Spain), ECONICK (France), Plant-e (Netherlands), City Facilitators -CF- (Denmark), and GreenTech Challenge -GTC- (Denmark).


Despite cities having strengthened their economy, efficiency, and liveability over the last decades, they are still facing major issues such as contamination, rising inequities, and unemployment, among others. These already harmful conditions for the environment and society are furthermore aggravated by crisis events such as the current pandemic. New planning paradigms that recognize the importance of ecology to respond to these challenges are being developed, by integrating living systems in urban environments aimed at improving cities’ socio-economic and environmental conditions.

Living systems integrated in cities are also known as Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), defined as “living solutions inspired by, continuously supported by, and using nature, which are designed to address various societal challenges in a resource efficient and adaptable manner and to provide simultaneously economic, social, and environmental benefits” (European Commission, 2015). NBS can help address several challenges through the provision of multiple ecosystem services such as life support (soil formation and oxygen production); procurement (production of food, drinking water, raw materials or fuel); regulation (climate control and tidal waves, water purification, pollination); and cultural values, including the aesthetic, educational, and recreational values. Intelligent design strategies can help reintegrate nature in cities by transforming urban spaces into liveable, productive, and biodiverse systems.

Advances in digital technologies open new opportunities to facilitate the integration of NBS in the urban environment and to increase the number and the quality of the ecosystem services provided. Digital technologies, for instance, such as simulation tools, open the possibility to test in a virtual environment how the system performs, while digital fabrication allows for the production of non-standardized elements (like green facades, floor tiles, public space furnitures, etc) for a tailored integration of nature in cities. The convergence among biology, ecological sciences and information technology applied to landscape and urban design can create powerful synergies to address the current socio-economic-environmental 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

As part of the Symposium, two calls have been launched:

  1. The Call for Papers
  2. The Design with Nature Contest

To find out more about these calls check out the Responsive Cities Website or the BUILD Solutions Website.

More information on the agenda and speakers will be announced soon!


Be updated about successful intelligent living solutions for cities, investigating biological systems, creating prototypes based on information technology and digital manufacturing, collaborating among academia, public administration, SMEs and start-ups in the field of bio-tech, architecture and business.