TALK Thursday 22 of October from 19h to 20h at IED


Bricktopia is the winner Project in eme3 “Build-it” category. It proposes the construction of a complex vaulted geometry using tile in the courtyard of the old thread factory Fabra i Coats (address: Carrer Sant Adrià 20, Barcelona). This intervention configures a new square where different activities can be performed, both under the building and around it. It includes bathing public spaces and sundecks, a bar and a stage for enjoying the summer 2013.
It is a vaulted structure made of brick using a traditional construction technique called tile-vault (or “Catalan vault”). It has been designed with the Rhinovault, a new digital tool to optimize structure through geometry developed by the Block Research Group in the ETH Zurich. The proposal is the result of the academic and professional research currently carried out by Marta Domènech, David López López and Mariana Palumbo, co-founders of the group Map13 Barcelona, with the help of different Professors from different fields and various schools of architecture.

This research collects the material tradition and the constructive knowledge of tile vaulting and combines them with contemporary computational tools. This project, developed in the enclosed area of a nineteenth-century factory made of brick, uses the same material raising a new topography in the old courtyard. However, it is opposed to the industrial construction offering a concave and protected space that links the origins of all cultures.
The vaulted pavilion sets out the contemporary validity of this traditional system, native of Catalonia and widely used in various parts of the world for centuries. It is economical, sustainable, with formal and functional versatility and nowadays it is also offering the possibility of being built in developing countries for roofs, stairs, drainage systems, etc. Unlike the construction that can be seen these days, this project aims to restore the expertise and imagination of the building hands. “Bricktopia” has been built by excellent builders who have made an unprecedented craftsmanship. The challenge that requires good layout in tile vault construction, specially with a complex shape like this one, suggests the work as an opposite to the mechanical work.


map13 Barcelona  is an international collective of architects founded in 2011. Marta Domènech, David López López and Mariana Palumbo are co-founders of the collective. They are researchers and lecturers at the School of Architecture of Barcelona and the Institute of Technology in Architecture at ETH Zurich.

Their work has been awarded in the Europan Oslo, for the second Biennial Guastavino 2014, selected by the awards Wienerberger Brick Award, awaiting solved this in November 2015 and has been selected to be exhibited at the pavilion innovation Beyond Building Barcelona Construmat 2015 . Bricktopia the project has been very well rewarded and published: Catalonia Construction Award 2014 (exaequo innovation and audience award) selected to FAD 2014 to archy Proxima 2014 AJAC award in 2014, etc.

They have published several articles in the field of Catalan Vault on its historical development, exploring their structural and geometric limits and also searching for alternative ways to build it with raw materials and do it more sustainable.

They have also conducted numerous hands-on workshops building with this technique in New York, Barcelona, Madrid and most recently as experts for the UN Habitat World Urban Forum in Medellin.


Marta Domènech is an architect, associate professor and PhD candidate in the Architectural Design Department at the School of Architecture of Barcelona (ETSAB, UPC). She was graduated as an architect in ETSAB 2008 and have also studied at the Technical University of Berlin. She hold a Master of Advanced Architectural Design from the School of Architecture of Madrid (ETSAM, UPM) and an Advanced Master in Theory and History of Architecture from the ETSAB.
Both Final Thesis were awarded with the first price of “Architectural Criticism” by the Institute of Architecture of Catalonia for Young Architects in 2012.
She was visiting scholar at the University of Columbia in New York for research in the works of Rafael Guastavino in 2011. She has published several articles about the traditional technique of Thin-Tile Vaulting in order to recover its contemporary value to build in a more sustainable economically and environmental way.
She has also conducted numerous workshops building with this technique in New York, Barcelona, Madrid and recently as an expert for the UN Habitat World Urban Forum 7 in Medellin with the BLOCK Research Group.
David López López received his Master Degree in Architecture in 2010 from the School of Architecture of Madrid (UPM), where he was also an assistant at the Structures Department during two years. He received an Advanced Master Degree in Building Technology, specializing in structural design, from the School of Architecture of Barcelona (UPC) and an Advanced Erasmus Mundus Masters Degree in Structural Analysis of Historical Constructions from the Civil Engineering Schools at the UPC and the University of Minho.
After gaining professional experience in different architecture offices, he co-founded the international collective map13 architects, which has been used as a platform to test and implement the results of academic research. He is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Technology in Architecture, ETH.
His doctoral research within the Block Research Group focuses on the structural behavior and assessment methods of thin-tile vaults. David has experience in this field as a mason, designer, project manager and structural consultant. He has lectured on this topic in several conferences, at the UPC in Barcelona, UNAM in Mexico, ETH in Zurich, EPFL in Laussane, at the MIT in Boston and in Geneva invited by UNHabitat as an expert in the field.
Mariana Palumbo is an architect and researcher at the Materials Laboratory with the GICITED group at UPC-Tech.
In 2008 she completed her studies in architecture at School of Architecture of Barcelona and l’ENSA Versailles. She holds a master degree in Advanced Architectural Projects from the School of Architecture of Madrid (ETSAM, UPM) and is currently a PhD student in sustainable materials in Barcelona, UPC.
She has been involved in several workshops on straw-bale construction and other alternative technologies and has supervised degree thesis on the development of low impact materials in architecture. She has studied at the University of Bath as a visiting scholar during her doctoral studies.
She is author of the thin-tile vault Bricktopia Pavilion, co-founder of the international collective map13 architects and partner of the Association Research in Sustainability that has been used as a platform to implement the results of her academic research.