At the core of our work lies a continuous exploration of new concepts and ideas. We believe that the role of the architect is to interpret the ever-changing social, cultural and technological context, in order to shape better living environments that respond and adapt to the outside conditions.

Our scientific investigation is motivated by our curiosity into the integration of design and the advancements in technology to improve the impact on our daily lives. Our scientific interests range from mathematics, biology, physics, and computer science as well as delving deep into design, architecture, and art. Through the combination of these different practices, we are able to combine and explore the opportunities that are entailed within them.

Carmelo Zappulla, founder of External Reference, is currently Faculty member at IAAC (Institute of Advance Architecture of Catalonia) and the director of the Master in Experiential Design at LCI Barcelona. He also collaborates with international architectural schools and institutions, including Stratchclyde University, WSA (The Welsh School of Architecture) and the Department of Architecture at Cardiff University, Wales, UK. 

IAAC: Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia

Is there any sharply defined boundary separating the natural from the artificial? Is it inevitable to treat the products of human activity as artificial and, thus, as irremediably detached from nature?

The design studio G2 at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), directed by Claudia Pasquero and Carmelo Zappulla, investigates the urban environment from an essentially non-anthropocentric point of view, on the basis of the belief that it is impossible to draw neat boundaries between nature and artifice.

The studio is an inclusive design research environment, where learning represents progressive experience aimed towards individual and collective development, and research combines both experimentation and simulation. The experiments are designed to build understanding of various phenomena by identifying cause-effect links. They focus on observation and exemplify different configurations of a research problem. Therefore, the experiments implement analogue research techniques that help to determine the design of an apparatus – a device that integrates all features and parameters of a specific phenomenon.

Experiments also resort to the aid of digital fabrication, glass craft, biotechnologies, digital video, and photography. On the other hand, simulations (by using computational models, simulation software, modelling techniques and digital video) represent and describe phenomena through virtuality. Both analogue and digital processes constitute research framework. Data integration between experiment and simulation processes provides a fruitful overview of the components and their relationships.

LCI Barcelona

The Experiential Interior Design (EID) refers to the practice of implementing experiential values in the field of spatial design. It is a new approach to the creation of interiors based on the principles of human behavior in relation to an environment organized and defined by human beings that stresses their experiential needs.

The idea of EID is based around the impact of an environment which is formed by subjective individual experience. This is the result of human interaction with the physical space or environment whose impact can be described as sensory, emotional, intellectual, pragmatic and/or social.