Lacol Architecture Studio has just won the prestigious Mies Award for Emerging Architecture with their project La Borda. We are happy to share this news because we have the pleasure of having counted on their participation as guest lecturers in the MCH 2022, within the Housing Practice module.
In this article we take a look at who they are, what they have achieved, and officially congratulate them on the prestigious award.
In 2010, a group of architecture students from the Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB-UPC) founded Lacol as a cooperative of architects who incorporate citizen participation processes in the definition of their architecture.
They did so when, at the beginning, they sought a place to work individually, but sharing knowledge and experiences. As they define themselves, their purpose is to work together to generate community infrastructures for the sustainability of life, but also as a key tool for eco-social transformation, based on architecture, cooperativism and participation.
At Lacol they approach their projects by working on the arrangement of different ways of living. Their best-known project, La Borda, is a housing cooperative in the Sants neighbourhood in Barcelona.
The Mies van der Rohe Emerging Prize is considered the most prestigious prize in European architecture. It was first awarded in 1987 with the aim of highlighting the contribution of European architects to the development of new ideas and technologies in contemporary urban development.
Lacol has won the Emerging 2022 Award. Specifically, with the La Borda cooperative housing building. Lacol's La Borda project was chosen from a shortlist of 532 projects from 41 countries by the prestigious architects on the jury, who assessed the concept in all its areas.
To provide a bit of background, the La Borda process began in 2012. During the community recovery of Can Batlló in Barcelona, a group of neighbours decided to organise themselves to jointly resolve the need for access to housing through the implementation of a housing cooperative.
Housing cooperatives are another way of understanding housing in its social sense, inherent to all inhabited residential buildings. Cohousing is a neologism that arises from the union of the concepts Collaborative and Housing.
This concept defines a collaborative residential system, in which housing spaces for private use are combined with communal areas for shared use. It has its origins in the participatory organisation of its inhabitants, through processes of self-promotion and self-management.
The Lacol Architects' Cooperative was involved from the beginning to create an alternative to the massive real estate crisis in Barcelona. This association becomes an opportunity to rethink the traditional construction of flats, doing it from the beginning with the participation of the future users.
There are five characteristics of this type of architecture that have a direct result on project management and development.
Self-promotion. The members are the ones who lead, control and develop the whole process through an internal structure that encourages their direct involvement. User influence is one of the main characteristics and capacities of a housing cooperative project, as well as its starting point.
Transfer of use. The building is owned by the cooperative, and the site is publicly owned. In this way, only the use of the dwelling is valued, avoiding speculation that could lead to an increase in the value of the dwelling.
Community living. It aims to improve the relationship between the cohabitants through the common spaces and to establish a social relationship, understanding the building as a construction in which the same importance is given to the common spaces as to the private ones. It is not about living together, it is about choosing who you want to live with in your building.
Sustainability. The priority is to minimise the environmental impact of the building, both during construction and throughout its life. To reduce energy consumption, the programme is optimised by avoiding underground parking, collective services and reducing the surface area of the residential areas. Also during the project we are looking for constructive systems of maximum energy efficiency, zero carbon footprint.
Affordability. The housing cooperative must be affordable for low-income individuals and families.
Land management and housing construction under the cooperative model is not a new idea, but there are now more success stories that serve as real models. This system allows several developers to come together in pursuit of common interests, building housing in a more economically and managerially efficient way. It is not a "hippy commune" model as many still think, but the most advanced way to self-promote, manage and build the housing you want.
The Master of Advanced Studies in Collective Housing is a professional and international postgraduate programme that is developed on a full-time basis, dealing with advanced architectural design in the city and housing. It is designed and taught jointly by the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH).
The application period for MCH2023 is opened.