Arquitectos de Cabecera: Free architecture office for citizen attention for Piso piloto exhibition at CCCB Barcelona, Copyright: Arquitectos de Cabecera, 2015

Raül P. Avilla-Royo (Alumni, 2022)

Graduated with a PhD in 2022



Collaborative Architecture Barcelona

The Architect as Enabler

The way in which architecture understands itself as a discipline and a practice is changing due to a growing involvement of community organisations in city design. Among the many cities where this shift is taking place, the socio-political and architectural contexts that shape it are studied in Barcelona. Particularly after 2008 community architects demanded the politicisation of architecture at all levels and stronger, socially committed agendas. Framed by calls for a right to the city, social justice and environmental sustainability, young architects have started to advocate architecture as a tool for social transformation and redefinition of architectural practice.

This research explores the impact of collaborative practices within and beyond the discipline of architecture by studying protocols of civic engagement. Analysing architecture as a (collaborative) process rather than as a product, this thesis closely studies how collaborative practices are redefining boundaries between the architectural project, social modes of government and urban policy-making. It does so by focusing on the role of community architects’ as enablers, who challenge existing power relations, knowledge asymmetries, professional expertise and uneven responsibilities in the making of architecture.

This thesis contributes to the theory - by providing an analysis of causes and impacts of the disciplinary shift - and practice - with a Toolkit that instrumentalises practice in research while becoming a projective tool that aims an impact in further practice.


Raül Avilla-Royo graduated from the Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB-UPC) and is PhD candidate at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London. He has researched the redefinition of architects' roles in collaborative processes of urban transformation. He has taught at the Architectural Association (AA) and the ETSAB. He develops projects of different scales from professional practice in Barcelona. He is a member of Arquitectos de Cabecera, a collective that inquiries into architectural pedagogy as a tool for social transformation and that has been exhibited and awarded nationally and internationally, including the City of Barcelona Award for Architecture and Urbanism in 2015 a commendation in the 2021 Innovation in Architectural Education Award by the International Union of Architects (UIA).


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Ines Weizman