IAAC - Institute for advanced architecture of Catalonia - Barcelona



The main difference between the MAA01 and the MAA02 is the duration of both programmes and the European credits that each one offers. The MAA01 is a 9-month programme and offers 75 ECTS while the MAA02 is an 18-month programme which offers 130 ECTS credits.

Apart from this, the MAA02 differs from the MAA01 in the second year. The first year is the same for both programmes and has a structure of 3 terms of 3 months each. The first one is an introductory term that offers you the tools that you will need in the following two terms, to develop the Research Line Studio project.

If a student chooses to understand the MAA02, he/she will have the chance to develop an Individual Thesis Project based on a research and development studio agenda, related to the 3 Research Lines of IAAC, and under the guidance of permanent IAAC faculty as well as external guest tutors. The thesis year also includes seminars that will be supporting the project development. Lectures and workshops are also part of the thesis year.

Both programmes share a common year, the MAA01, however, they differ after the first 9 months.

The MAA02 (MAA01 + Thesis) combines the first year Master with the second year of investigation to develop a thesis project. This programme allows senior students, who have already developed the appropriate sensibility and tools during the first year, to develop a personal investigation around the topics of advanced technology, architecture and urbanism, and study it thoroughly. During the second year, students are required to deal with a project bearing in mind the possibility of developing it with international faculty and enterprises, highly specialised in different fields.

  • This 18-month programme offers 130 ECTS CREDITS.
  • Students receive 1 degree. (Master in Advanced Architecture and Thesis degree)

MAA+OTF combines the MAA01 with a postgraduate programme called Open Thesis Fabrication (OTF), which is an intensive applied research programme that combines Academy and Industry and focuses on developing innovative solutions in a wide range of fields (architecture, design, construction interaction, technology). The programme aims for the students to postulate innovative responses to Market-related needs and it combines academic professors with experts from the industry creating a platform that enables them to understand the industry and to respond with new architectural and constructive ideas.

Some of IAAC collaborating companies for the OTF postgraduate programme are: TECNALIA (Advanced Technological Centre), AXSON (polyurethane and epoxy resins manufacturers), BREINCO (concrete products manufacturers), CERÁMICA CUMELLA (ceramic manufacturers), CRICURSA (glass manufacturers), KUKA (robotics), SANTA&COLE (urban furniture manufacturers), among others.

  • This 13-month programme offers 100 ECTS CREDITS.
  • Students receive 2 separate degrees. (Master in Advanced Architecture Degree + Open Thesis Fabrication postgraduate degree)

The main difference between the MaCT01 and the MaCT02 is the duration of both programmes and the European credits that each one offers. The MaCT01 is a 9-month programme and offers 75 ECTS while the MaCT02 is an 18-month programme which offers 120 ECTS credits.

Apart from this, the MaCT02 differs from the MaCT01 in the second year. The first year is the same for both programmes and has a structure of 3 terms of 3 months each. The first one is an introductory term that offers you the tools that you will need in the following two terms, to develop the Research Line Studio project.

If a student chooses to understand the MaCT02, he/she will have the chance to develop an Individual Thesis Project based on a research and development studio agenda, related to the 4 Research Lines of IAAC, and under the guidance of permanent IAAC faculty as well as external guest tutors. The thesis year also includes seminars that will be supporting the project development. Lectures and workshops are also part of the thesis year.

You can find the complete info at the following link:


You can find a calendar of classes, activities and events in here:

Class attendance is obligatory for studio and non-studio courses. In both cases, courses are graded as follows:

  • 0–4.9 Fail (this means that the student is not going to get his/her Master Degree, this grade will be justified and well explained)
  • 5.0–6.9 Pass
  • 7.0–8.9 Good
  • 9.0–10 Excellent/Distinction

Under no circumstances will students be excused from presenting their design work at the final review of a project. An incomplete will require extra work defined by IAAC coordination and the assigned professor. MAA Diploma will not be delivered to students with an incomplete in their final grades.

In addition to the above, Midterm Reviews will be held with the members of the faculty in order to inform each student briefly of the general feelings of the faculty about his or her work. Suggestions may be given on how to prepare for the Final Review.


The Master in Advanced Architecture emerges as an innovative structure focusing on three Research Lines on MAA01 and the first year of MAA02 which are: X-Urban Design, Self Sufficient Buildings and Digital Matter. And three Thesis Studios on the second year of MAA02 which are: The City in the Age of Hyperobjects, Climatic Matter and C-Biom.A.

All the Research Lines and Thesis Studios are led by internationally renowned experts, and mixing students and faculty from different disciplines and origins, towards the creation of a networked hub for research and innovation for the habitability of the XXIst Century.

The emergence of the informational society has made most of the urban tools used by our industrial society almost obsolete. Our generation is witnessing a radical change in the treatment of information, it is no longer about accumulating ratios of knowledge in long terms, but about processing a small amount of binary data in periods of three seconds. These transformations underline the necessity to re-formulate our manner of thinking cities and establishing new urban design agendas.

The X-Urban Design Studio is convinced that this technological shift allows an emancipation of the “generic” in order to dig in what is radically “specific”. A specificity that is being developed in an hyper-expanded present, in which past and future have collapsed and blurred our capacity to speculate. In this respect, the Studio proposes to build up new open narratives that reformulate our urban imagery through a multi-scalar computational methodology anchored in a particular theorisation about the idea of future.

The X-Urban Design Research Line is directed by Willy Müller.

Architecture goes beyond buildings. Self-sufficient Buildings studio works at the interface between architecture and art, digital processes and technological material development. It is committed to the use of new technological developments for digital fabrication and the performative character of architecture, which creates intelligent structures. Self-sufficient Buildings studio green agenda is to look at pilot Projects in Global Warming Scenarios.

The Self-sufficient Buildings research line is directed by Enric Ruiz Geli and Mireia Luzárraga.

Digital Matter studio explores how intelligent constructions in architecture go beyond traditional materials. It works with digital content, information and fabrication, generating new techniques towards the production of non-rigid, responsive and multi-functional materials and construction systems. Focusing on active and reactive materials, able to adjust their properties to different environmental conditions, the possibilities of programming buildings from a nanoscale are studied, opening a new series of applications from architectural to industrial scale.

The Research line Digital Matter is directed by Areti Markopoulou.

Today we build cars without drivers, buildings without inhabitants, cities without roads. We try to make cities smart; turn every building into powers stations and have built after 9/11 more high-rise buildings than ever before. We do not either really know why we do that nor what we are doing when we design these entities. The Framework of the Thesis Program on the City is based on a simple question: How do our cities look like? How does reality design? The aim of the thesis programme is to develop an architectural project for the city, which is neither driven by a scientific approach of data scapes nor should it be guided by empirical case studies to understand their morphology.

Rather what this Thesis Studio would like to propose is if we can search the City in the Age of Hyperobjects. Hyperobjects are to what Timothy Morten refers to: “things that are massively distributed, very large relative to humans, whether directly manufactured by humans or not”. They have a significant impact on us humans and that we struggle to understand them. The aim of the research project is to design new forms of architecture for our contemporary city, in which objects of any kind, like machines, buildings, landscapes or artificial environments are designed under the influence of hyper-objects and become fused or merged together to form new architectural types.

The City in the Age of Hyperobjects Studio Thesis is directed by Peter Trummer with the assistance of Jordi Vivaldi.

Rather than to frame architecture as an energetic or a geometric issue we aim at problematising architecture’s physical materiality. We believe that one can focus on strategies to develop novel proposals for architecture within the depths of matter and its internal consistency, within the realm of pure organisation buried in atomic aggregates, in a space devoid of cultural interferences, metaphors and meanings and where beauty is not taken into account.

We aim at abandoning the glitz of the surface, abandoning the visible and its panoply of image simulators, and overturning the experiment into an operative and performative act: we aim at developing, testing and building Climatic Matter®. Over the years teaching at IAAC we have developed a speculative and opportunistic agenda that embraces architecture’s contemporary paradigms, sustainability and object-oriented programming, and synthesised them into an operative method that purposely avoids metaphors. Through this dynamic and unstable material aggregates, made out of climate and algorithms, architecture surfaces as Climatic Matter® we aim at implementing systematic and methodological processes that overlap the ecological and the digital, a consistent palimpsest of environmental and parametric design. Our agenda is a pure process, our language is geometry and abstraction is the means to achieve and develop Climatic Matter®.

The Climatic Matter Studio Thesis is directed by Jordi Pagés and Lluis Viu.

C-Biom.A is an innovative design research group at IAAC, which focuses on developing new bio and environmentally integrated design strategies. Students explore advanced computational models and simulations that are applied to building prototypes made of new material composites that are either bio-inspired or bio-integrated. Many of the proposed objects and components aim to stimulate natural growth of bacteria, fungi, algae, and higher plants and the integration of these species in buildings.

In a time in which more people are living in cities, the ultimate aim of the group is to develop a radical new sensibility of understanding of architecture where climate and nature, as well as a new sense of materiality, is the driving motif for design. There is a high level of attention given to the use of new digital tools and fabrication techniques through which more complex and highly differentiated responses can be given to our rapidly changing urban environment.

Students in C-Biom.A develop an individual thesis that is composed of a written and illustrated portfolio, as well as substantial models and prototypes that are shown in a final exhibition designed by the students.

The C-Biom.A Thesis Studio is directed by Marcos Cruz.

In the MAA01 and during the first year of the MAA02 each student is free to choose the research lines he/she prefers to take in the second and third term according to his/her inclinations. During the first term, each student has the time to develop a deeper understanding of the different research lines and become familiar with their agendas.

The Academic Coordination team will distribute the students in one of the research lines according to the following criteria:

  • Student’s profile
  • Final grades obtained by the students in the first term in the different courses.
  • Student’s preferences, expressed via survey by the due date, in the first term. Should the student not express these preferences by the due date communicated, this point will not be taken into consideration.
  • Studio faculty’s evaluation of the student’s profile.

In the second year of MAA02, each student is asked to present a research proposal. The tutors of the MAA02 will create their research group based on the proposals received, picking those closer to their agenda.


Tuition deposit is a NON refundable payment.

Application fee is NON refundable


You can find the complete information here: SELECTION PROCESS.

  • Usually around 50{d857388f21b456b5950843ccf3ce3afcfd8f254def444a67f9da77e83e0d77e9} of applications are accepted.
  • A maximum of 80 and a minimum of 11 is accepted for MAA01, MAA02, MAI, MaCT, MAEB, MRAC and MDEF.
  • A minimum of 6 students is accepted for OTF.

IAAC reserves the right to cancel any programme if the minimum number of participants is not reached. 30 days prior to the start of a programme IAAC will let the students know if the minimum number of participants is met or not. If IAAC cancels a programme, the student will be given a full refund of any amount paid for the cancelled course, without losing administrative fees. If a programme is cancelled, a student may decide whether to be transferred to another Programme or to receive a full refund of any amount paid for the cancelled course without losing administrative fees.

No, all the material must be submitted digitally using the online form.

Admission to the programme will be based on the mandatory submission of the application documents, examples of your previous work in the form of a portfolio, as well as your motivation letter.

In-depth knowledge is not required, but we expect you to use AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Office, Rhinoceros, among others. Also, during the first months of the master, students are trained in the computer skills they might need during the development of the master

If you do not use Rhinoceros and Grasshopper, please start online tutorials. If you are not familiar with scripting, you could start looking at some Processing or Python tutorials. You can find some good free coursesAlso, become familiar with Arduino

An introductive pre-course is offered the two weeks before the masters and includes an introduction to Rhino and Grasshopper.

You are still eligible for the programme but you have to make sure to send the missing documentation required before the deadline and complete the Official Diploma requirement as soon as you have it. In the meantime, you can provide a provisional certificate of your studies (in English), and submit your official diploma afterwards.

There is no specific template for recommendation letters, the style remains at the writer’s discretion but it should contain an introduction with an explanation of who the writer is, how they know the person they’re recommending and a brief outline of the subject in terms of discipline and topical/thematic focus; a description of some research work, conference activity, observations about character and personality. (Please bear in mind that the recommendation letter should clearly state the name of the student the writer is recommending).

Letters can be sent by those who recommend you directly or you can send us a scanned version via email with the rest of the application documentation.

Yes, IAAC requires B.Arch. degree or a University Bachelor degree as a requirement for the Master Degree. This means that any university bachelor can be accepted. There is also the possibility that you don’t hold a University degree. In this case, you can still apply, but if you are selected and finish your Master course, you won’t be getting a Master’s Degree but a Certificate of Achievement.

There is also the matter of your background. Even though the master is mainly aimed towards Architects, we are keen to offer a multidisciplinary approach to advanced architecture and we appreciate having students from other disciplines that improve and enrich the discussions within the programme.

If you have a degree in Interior Design / Engineering / Product Design you can apply to the Master in Advanced Architecture – MAA. Every year a small percentage of non-architects are admitted to the Master programmes, under the evaluation of their profiles.

In any case, if you have a degree in Engineering or Economy please consider applying to the Master in City and Technology – MaCT.

The pre-course is an optional *(in some particular cases required) introductory programme for students who are going to attend any of IAAC’s Master programmes. It offers students the possibility of getting the first insight into the school’s contents and methodology, as well as the opportunity to strengthen skills in the fields of computation, fabrication, editing and research methodology.

*The academic committee could establish the enrollment in the pre-course as a mandatory requirement if it considers that the student needs to improve certain skills. In some other cases the committee could also just recommend or suggest the pre-course, this will depend on each student’s skills and background.

The price of the pre-course is 1000€ and it is not included in the total fares of the tuition or enrolment fees.

Structure of the Pre-Course:

  1. Module 01. Research Methodology
  2. Module 02. Communicating Design
  3. Module 03. Fabrication
  4. Module 04. Rhinoceros
  5. Module 05. GIS
  6. Module 06. Programming
  7. Module 07. Grasshopper
  8. Module 08. Digital Fabrication

The complete pre-course programme can be downloaded here.


There a number of ways to access scholarships and/or financial benefits:

  1. From 2018 IAAC will start giving competition-based scholarships to the top three projects of each category/master programme. The programmes giving scholarships this year are: Master in Design for Emergent Futures, Master in City & Technology, Master in Robotics and Advanced Construction, Master in Advanced Interaction and Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings. To learn more about the competitions and how to participate please click here.

  2. The Advanced Architecture Contest is a biannual competition by IAAC’s Advanced Architecture Group that grants a full scholarship to the competition winner and prizes for the first and second runner-ups. Next competition will take place in 2020. To find out more about it please click here. 

  3. IAAC Alumni Community (students from this institution who have successfully graduated from a Master’s Programme) have an automatic 40{d857388f21b456b5950843ccf3ce3afcfd8f254def444a67f9da77e83e0d77e9} discount (Non-EU tuition fees) and 10{d857388f21b456b5950843ccf3ce3afcfd8f254def444a67f9da77e83e0d77e9} discount (EU tuition fees) in all Master Programmes.

  4. Space10 is sponsoring a full scholarship for the Master in Design for Emergent Futures (2018). Interested applicants will have to submit a written proposal for an idea that could enable a better, more meaningful and sustainable life for the many people within one of the themes outlined below, and that you would like to develop during the course. The deadline is March 10th 2018. Please click here to find out more. 

  5. IAAC is also offering a 30{d857388f21b456b5950843ccf3ce3afcfd8f254def444a67f9da77e83e0d77e9} discount in the Master’s in Design for Emergent Futures tuition fee for FabAcademy graduates.

+++ LANGUAGE +++

All programmes, classes, conferences and workshops at IAAC are in English, so there is no requirement in terms of the Spanish language. IAAC does not require proof of knowledge of the English language, but we do expect our students to have a very high level in both speaking and writing.

Please note that in some cases an English certificate might be required from your country in order to issue your Visa.

All activities in IAAC are in English, so there is no requirement of the knowledge of Spanish nor Catalan for academic reasons.


All the IAAC Masters programmes are postgraduate Master degrees adapted to the European Higher Educational Area (EHEA) and accredited by the Fundación UPC – Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

  • The accreditation by the EHEA of the Master in Advanced Architecture was done during the Academic year 2009-10 with 75 ECTS credits for the Master in Advanced Architecture _01 and 130 ECTS credits for the Master in Advanced Architecture_02.

  • The accreditation by the EHEA of the Master in Advanced Interaction was done during the Academic year 2011-12 with 75 ECTS credits.

  • The accreditation by the EHEA of the Master in City and Technology was done during the Academic year 2014-15 with 75 ECTS credits.

  • Open Thesis Fabrication (OTF) is a Post-graduate programmed adapted to the European Higher Educational Area (EHEA) and accredited by the Fundación UPC with 25 ECTS credits.

  • The accreditation by the EHEA of the Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings was done during the Academic year 2017-18 with 90 ECTS credits.

  • The accreditation by the EHEA of the Master in Robotics and Advanced Construction was done during the Academic year 2017-18 with 75 ECTS credits.

  • The accreditation by the EHEA of the Master in Design for Emergent Futures was done during the Academic year 2017-18 with 75 ECTS credits.


Master in Advanced Architecture (MAA01, MAA02), Master in Advanced Interaction (MAI)Master in City and Technology (MaCT),  Master in Robotics and Advanced Construction (MRAC), Master in Design for Emergent Futures (MDEF), Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings (MAEB) and Open Thesis Fabrication (OTF) programme are awards given by the UPC – Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya according to the university’s own standards for postgraduate studies. Spanish regulation specifies that universities can instruct studies that lead to obtaining other degrees apart from the Graduate, University Master or Doctorate.

Every country has its own system of accreditation, therefore, we suggest that each student should pass the above information to the ministry of education in their home country to assure compatibility.

ECTS stands for European Credit Transfer System, the standard adopted by all universities in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) to ensure the homogeneity and quality of the courses they offer.

An ECTS credit is equal to 25 hours of work, counting class hours and in addition, all the other activities carried out during a student’s learning process (studying, assignments, practical work, etc.).

In Spain a postgraduate master degree, like the ones we offer here at IAAC, does not lead to an Architectural License. However, if you have completed an architectural degree in another country, it can be recognised as a Diploma in Spain. This procedure is called “Homologación” and should be done by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

Please note, every country has its own system of accreditation. If you would like to apply for an architectural license in your home country, we suggest that you check the compatibility of the Diplomas with the ministry of education in your country.

You can find more information on this process

+++ VISA +++

If you are a citizen of a country belonging to the European Union you don’t need to follow any administrative procedure to become a student.

Students from non-EU countries who wish to study in Spain for a period of more than three months must:

  • Apply for a student visa at the Spanish embassy or consulate in their home country before coming to Spain.

  • Once you are here, obtain the residency number (NIE) which is proof that you are legally residing in Spain.

IAAC offers assistance to students who have difficulties getting their VISA after following the normal procedure, in case of unforeseen delays or unexpected difficulties.


Yes absolutely! It is a very safe city because there is very little violent crime, even at night. The only area where you need to take care very late at night is the lower part of the Raval in Barcelona’s old city, but even here violent crime is very rare.

However, there are problems with pickpockets during the day. You can lose phones, wallets and bags, but you will not be assaulted or mugged, just robbed. Pickpockets are the biggest crime problem in Barcelona, but if you take some simple precautions then you will not be a victim of pickpocket crime. It’s also a good idea to always leave your passport at home and not bring it with you when you are walking around the city (you can bring a photocopy of it with you).

IAAC does not cover students in case of accidents and injuries. Before coming to Barcelona, you must get in contact with the public health service in your country so that they can inform you of the documentation that you need to use within our health system. If you are not covered by the public health system, you must have private medical insurance to cover the entire duration of your stay in Barcelona.

Catalan public health will charge you for any kind of treatment you may need. Information about the Catalan health system.

No, but we have IAAC’s Student Guidebook to give students some recommendations about how and where find proper accommodation. A Facebook Group is also created before the beginning of the Master in order to make it easier to find flatmates.

The average expense per month varies depending on the student’s lifestyle.

Approximate monthly expenses:

  • Accommodation (a room for rent) 450€
  • Transport (metro) 60€
  • Food and everyday expenses 290€
  • Studio material 200€
  • 1 Research trip a year (depending on destination) 1000/1700€ (optional activity)

You can find more information and recommendation about life in Barcelona downloading IAAC’s Student Guidebook.

Follow this link to discover why Barcelona is the best city to study in.

With the aim of providing prospective students with a proper welcome in the city of Barcelona, IAAC provides students with a handbook plenty of information and tips when it comes to settling down in the city: from information on how to get around the city, cost of living, better neighbourhoods to live in as well as guidelines for carrying out administrative paperwork. Click on IAAC’s Student Guidebook to download the document.


Yes, each student is required to have his/her own laptop. Instructions will be given regarding which programmes are required to be installed before the beginning of the course.


Once you are an enrolled student at IAAC, we will need you to provide us with a series of documents for your Master’s Diploma issuing process. Please find all the essential information about documentation and steps to be followed to request your diploma in this link.


The IAAC Alumni Community is an active and dynamic network of visionary professionals spread around the world, promoting the principles and the application of Advanced Architecture and collaborating with IAAC in multiple academic and research operations.

Over the last ten years, IAAC has received and been home to over 500 students from more than 70 countries, including China, the UK, the USA, Australia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Argentina, Brasil, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Peru, Germany, Iran, Thailand, Russia, Turkey, India, Poland, Cyprus, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Colombia, Korea and more making it an exceptionally international and multicultural place.

Through the Alumni network, IAAC offers its Alumni globally renowned job placement opportunities (both in the professional sphere and the academic sphere), where IAAC Alumni have privileged access.

IAAC Alumni also offers support for the development of alumni activities throughout the world, promoting these events throughout the IAAC network.

The Alumni network also gathers once every 2 years for an alumni meeting and symposium where all alumni are invited to discuss work developed after IAAC, keeping the network close and the discourse alive.

After the completing the first year of studies, students with excellent grades can apply for research or teaching assistantships.

Aside from the IAAC Alumni network, that offers IAAC Alumni select and renowned job placement opportunities as described in [AFTER IAAC – How does the IAAC Alumni community work?], the connections that you make during your time studying at IAAC will also open the door to great professional and academic possibilities.

IAAC faculty and visiting faculty, as well as the lecturers invited as part of the lecture series, are all internationally renowned experts, from different disciplines and origins, giving the IAAC students the direct possibility to cultivate professional and academic relations oriented towards future employment or research opportunities.

In this sense, 70{d857388f21b456b5950843ccf3ce3afcfd8f254def444a67f9da77e83e0d77e9} of IAAC Alumni find a job (either in the professional realm or the academic field) after just 6 months of completing the Master programme (80{d857388f21b456b5950843ccf3ce3afcfd8f254def444a67f9da77e83e0d77e9} of these thanks to the connections they have made directly through IAAC); and 90{d857388f21b456b5950843ccf3ce3afcfd8f254def444a67f9da77e83e0d77e9} within one year of completing the Master.