Lacol: Community Infrastructure

The Barcelona design cooperative discusses the La Borda housing project and its horizontal approach to architectural practice.

November 8, 2022
12:00 p.m.

Lacol | La Borda, Barcelona, Spain, 2019. Image credit: Institut Municipal de l'Habitatge i Rehabilitació de Barcelona

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

The fall 2022 Current Work series examines projects and firms enacting new modes of architectural practice, collaboration, and community engagement. 

Lacol is an architectural cooperative established in 2009 in the Barcelona neighborhood of Sants. The group works to generate community infrastructures through architecture, cooperativism, and user participation. Focused on improving the quality of urban life, Lacol encourages debate on the management of urban spaces and the recovery of local heritage. 

In the words of the RIBA Journal, Lacol’s work “is proof that another way is possible; where disempowered communities can be galvanized, that land deemed out of reach can be secured, and that cooperation by all at the most fundamental levels can—when guided by architects—realize great design.”

Recent projects include: 

  • La Borda, a 28-unit housing cooperative organized by its users and built on municipal land
  • La Comunal, a cultural space that houses eight cooperative organizations, including Lacol, on a rehabilitated industrial site 
  • Coòpolis, a facility for the promotion and development of the cooperative economy in Barcelona.

Lacol won the 2022 Mies van der Rohe Award for Emerging Architecture, and its work has been included in several architecture biennials, including Venice (2016, 2021), Buenos Aires (2017), and San Sebastián (2019).

This lecture will be presented by two of Lacol’s 14 cofounders, Cristina Gamboa Masdevall and Eliseu Arrufat Grau.

Gamboa Masdevall is an architect and teacher whose work focuses on cooperative housing policy and participatory design. She studied at the Barcelona School of Architecture (often referred to by its acronym in Spanish, ETSAB) at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Stuttgart. Gamboa Masdevall currently teaches at the Architectural Association and ETSAB; previously, she taught at the Royal College of Art’s School of Architecture. 

Arrufat Grau is an architect and structural designer with an interest in innovative construction systems and sustainable materials. He studied at ETSAB and has a master’s degree in structural engineering, also from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia.

The program will be moderated by Anna Puigjaner. Puigjaner is a co-founder of MAIO, an architectural office in Barcelona developing new models of collective housing. An associate professor of professional practice at Columbia GSAPP, she received Harvard GSD’s Wheelwright Prize in 2016 and was nominated as a finalist in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.


This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

The event is co-sponsored by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union.