ACC Lectures 2024 | Lecture 03 | Raul Avilla Royo

The Architect as Enabler

The lecture will be an exploration of the disciplinary boundaries of architecture, challenging design methods, professional agency, and knowledge asymmetries in the decision-making processes.

Raul Avilla Royo, is an architect with a Ph.D from the Royal College of Art in London. He explores architects’ evolving roles in collaborative urban transformations. He has taught at institutions like the Architectural Association and the ETSAB, while contributing to diverse projects in Barcelona through the cooperative As a member of Arquitectos de Cabecera, his work emphasizes architectural pedagogy’s role in social change,  earning awards like the City of Barcelona Award (2015) and a UIA commendation (2021).


22 thoughts on “ACC Lectures 2024 | Lecture 03 | Raul Avilla Royo

  1. Fabrizio Bosco

    The Architect Raul Avilla-Royo, with his speech, touched the theme of social limits that can be present only in the internal design of a building but that can be developed at the level of the neighborhood and the city itself up to a global level. It was highlighted then how important it is to collaborate with the users of what will be the future spaces built for them, This is important in all phases of the construction project and is fundamental for us architects to be able to improve the situation as much as possible because we are part of the modern problems but we are also the solution. Sherry Arnstein already in 1969 strongly believed that population participation levels were an important tool for the design itself, as demonstrated by Raul Avilla with La Quinta Força, a modular cooperative housing that allows you to change the environments and its size according to the needs of those who live there.

  2. Melisa Domanic

    The speaker explained that the role of architects is not to solve problems solely by themselves, but rather to be a part of a solution, whether big or small. Architecture is too big of a responsibility to be handled by architects alone, which is why the lecturer believes that collaboration is essential in the practice of architecture. The speaker made it very clear what kind of process they follow for a community architecture, both in the associations he is involved in and in the architectural studio, and also presented the toolkit for community archtecture in his book. During the presentation, the lecturer presented case studies of collaborative architectural practices which were both interesting and informative. The case studies demonstrated both the successful results of the projects and the potential problems associated with this type of architecture. It was interesting to see how collaborative architecture users also gain a sense of empowerment through involvement in the design process.

  3. Gauri Manoj

    The lecture by Architect Raul Avilla-Royo provided insights to explore the idea of the limits of Architecture of limits under the purview of ‘The Architect as the Enabler’. The role of an Architect or architecture has significant relevance in the development of a place and on its character or identity. We saw how Architecture has various roles under diverse titles like Fine arts, Polytechnic, applied art, and more. Taking the context of Barcelona multiple scenarios and undertakings were explored through examples that showed how Architecture or us Architects as the ‘enablers’ have the duty and, on occasion, the power to prompt actions from the community for a better neighborhood and thus a better city. To achieve this it is possible to devise new tools to ensure community(user) involvement in designing; after all, who knows the neighborhood better than its residents? User-led designs improve the project, as it provides room for not just functional spaces but quality spaces tailored to the needs and comforts of the user. Multiple examples portray this scenario and its effects on Architecture, resulting in many radical solutions that challenged its limits.

  4. Sreelakshmi Gopinath

    Architect Raul Avilla Royo grabbed my attention when he defined Architecture as ‘Dramatic narrative of sacred imaginative poetry’. The lecture was highly enlightening as he explained how architect serves as Vital enabler in the built environment, bridging the gap between human needs and physical spaces. Architects envision spaces that not only meet functional requirements but also resonate with cultural, environmental and economic context. He explained how Barcelona transformed architecturally, becoming the ‘city of architects’. It was interesting to understand how architects can be advocates for inclusivity and accessibility, ensuring spaces are welcoming and Accomodating for people of all backgrounds and abilities. Some of the projects i found most interesting were Can 60 House Factory and La Quinta Forca which are both innovative housing solutions that exemplifies flexible architecture and Modularity. Looking forward to reading his published book ’ Collaborative tools for Community Architecture’.

  5. Lekshmi Sindhu Raju

    The seminar, conducted by Ar. Raul Avilla Royo, offered a comprehensive exploration of limits of architecture by how architecture crosses disciplinary boundaries to question professional agency, design practices, and information asymmetries in urban scale decision-making and he presented wonderfully about methodology for the architect as enabler of architectural processes. Attendees were privileged to delve into the depths of various defenitions of architecture such as ; Architecture as public service where users as proactive stakeholders and to design from subject and not from the object. Various case studies and examples like La quinta forca – cooperative housing in Barcelona , OAXACO childhood city Mexico showed different scenarios and how approaches to be taken. In a rapidly changing world, architects must design buildings that are adaptable and resilient. By considering factors such as flexibility, scalability, and future-proofing, architects can create spaces that can evolve over time to meet the changing needs of users.

  6. Jacqueline Siega

    During years in schools were developed different approaches to investigate architecture. Architecture was considered as something technical, practical, and humanistic. But what we can say about architecture as a social science? What are the relations between architecture and urban sociology? The relation is very strictly because the architect’s activity is an attempt to investigate the city, people who live there and how people use it. Is important to consider what are social limits of architect’s activity and especially today what architecture can teach in world full of contradictions. For this reason, Professor Raul Avilla Rojo show us particular case study, the city of Barcelona, as place in which social transformations and contradictions have changed the image of the city. In this specific situation is interesting understand what is the responsibility of architects that will operate in it. In this perspective architecture is considered as social service, in which theoretical knowledge, professional practice and activism are mixed. Architecture is a collaborative practice and a discovery within his limits and beyond.

  7. Bianca Carmen Martinica

    Architect Raul Avilla-Royo interprets the concept of limits in architecture as the profession of architecture as enabler. The architectural profession is expanded to many different fields and so is its responsibility. Tipically the architect partecipates mostly in the design and execution stage of an architectural project, but this can create a difficulty of the project to really satisfy the users’ needs. So, Raul Avilla-Royo debates on the social responsibility that the architect can take in a project. The architect can be the person who identifies a necessity or listens to the community’s issues and brings them in front of the city’s council. Then the architect can design and also interpret the future needs of the users and how architecture can adapt to them. Projects like Can 60 Factory shows us how the architects had a socially important role into preserving the identity of the neighborhood and its resistance to gentification and the Childhood City in Oaxaca City shows how partecipation can lead to self empowerment of the community and to the right to live the city.

  8. Gil Shafir

    Architect Raül Avilla-Royo discusses the importance of the social side as part of Architects’ work, implemented by adding to the planning, the “participation” stage.
    “Participation” includes discussions with users such as the neighbourhoods’ inhabitants, politicians, institutions as well as allowing the users to take an active part in the process itself. Awareness of problems and needs, benefits improvement and heritage preservation. Excluding the participation stage as part of the planning process could result in massive damage to societies as presented in Spain’s housing crisis of 2008. Based on a project in Mexico, he concludes that once the users take an active part, this brings determination to maintain and upgrade the result themselves and by contacting local authorities.He suggests that a floor plan should not only have standard architectural elements, but rather more “social layers” of the people who will be living there and their personal objects in the structure.

  9. Doga Dagci

    The lectur given by architect Raul Avilla Royo, under the title ‘The Architect as Enabler’, talked about the effects of the architecture of the living space on the quality of our lives. And it was added that the impact of architecture on society is too important to be left to architects alone, and with a question such as who knows the problems of an area better than the people who live there, he showed that there can be pros and cons of involving the people there in an urban transformation. Then it also gave a brief overview of which educational institutions offer education in different styles of architecture, such as technical, traditional and design-oriented. And in the case of Mexico, how economic solutions can create great change, how the community can be more accepting if they are involved in the city decision making. but what I find really interesting is La Quinta Força a modular housing solution with flexible possibilities, where new spaces are created.

  10. Valentina Montagnini

    Architect Raul Avilla Royo explains his point of view that found the limit of architecture in the act of design without taking into consideration the people who are supposed to live in a site.
    The inhabitants are a real and tangible layer to consider in a project and not something that just comes after the constructions.
    It’s been posed as an example the city of Barcellona, from the sixties the city has gone through many changes, it has re-established itself as a touristic city, which nowadays has become a problem to the actual citizen. Even though the Barcelona city transformation is on a larger scale, some similar approaches have been applied on districts or on singular building.
    As architects they started to develop a new approach to the project, starting from basic drawings were it was a prerogative to capture every details, from the imperfection of the structure to the furnishings, because those are parts of the architecture, as well as the people living in it and their habits.
    I personally see the point of his lecture in the fact that architecture has to adapt to human needs, not the other way around.

  11. Giulia Barros Lemes

    In his lecture, professor and architect Raul Avilla Royo debates the role of the architect as a professional. He starts by presenting us the multiple aspects of this field being simultaneously a polytechnic, humanistic, and artistic area. This multidisciplinary area, according to Royo, can also work as a social and political tool, having a significant responsibility, especially in scenarios of crisis. Taking this into consideration, the professor discusses the importance of a collaborative design, not leaving the work for the architects alone, but including the perspective of users and the community. Moreover, the architect uses Barcelona as an example of the consequences of focusing only on tourism, according to him, the phenomena resulted in an increasing commercialization and gentrification of the Catalan city. Finally, Professor Royo argues that architects should expand their responsibilities beyond just designing and building, instead, listen to communities’ needs and advocate for them in city planning.

  12. Romina

    The architecture lecture explored the complex challenges faced in urban settings and the evolving responsibilities of architects within societal contexts. It discussed how tourism, although visually appealing, can have negative effects on local residents, leading to social and political tensions such as increased unemployment rates. The lecture also emphasized the importance of public spaces reclaimed by social movements, highlighting architecture’s intersection with political and economic crises.

    In Barcelona, there was a shift in architectural thinking demonstrated through the redesign of public schools to address practical needs like storage space. The lecture also touched on the significance of understanding cultural aspects, like the usage of houses in Chinese and Mongolian contexts, stressing the need for architects to engage with local communities for effective urban solutions.

    Additionally, the lecture highlighted innovative architectural projects such as the House Factory in Barcelona and child-friendly urban planning in Tokyo, showcasing how designs can positively impact urban living and community well-being. These discussions underscored the evolving role of architects to consider not just aesthetics but also functionality, inclusivity, and societal impacts in their designs.

  13. Eisra Kamal Mahgoub Suliman

    The lecture which was presented by Architect Raul Avilla-Royo explained the role big and important role of architects in designing the space and the difference architecture add to spaces. The speaker explains how a design can actually affect the experience of users, and how it’s important to take into consideration the cultural, environmental and economic aspects as well. It was clarified also by the speaker that the role of architects can expand to deliver community issues and matters to the general council in the city. The role of users also in the design of the space can have its negative and positive aspects, so the inclusion of different members in the design is important and should be addressed.
    After visualizing different examples, it was clear that how the role of architect is crucial to give the neighborhood and urban spaces its identity, and also how the inclusion of community members can lead eventually to add a positive and powerful values to the cities.

  14. Ecem Cosan

    In the architect’s talk, we explored the limits of our field, especially during tough times like political or social crises. We learned how important it is for buildings to provide safe housing, which helps prevent crime in cities. The architect also showed us how buildings can have different levels with the same structure but used in different ways, like having kitchens or bedrooms on different floors. They questioned whether a place can still be called a house if it doesn’t have typical household stuff inside.
    We discussed how urban planning is a way to help people and that architects can do more than just design buildings – they can also work on solving problems in communities. For example, we heard about a neighborhood that turned a parking lot into a playground without waiting for permission from the government, with support from the locals.
    Overall, the talk highlighted how architects can make a big difference in society by thinking creatively and involving people in their projects.

  15. Angela Dalia

    In questa terza conferenza l’architetto Raul Avilla Royo, pone in evidenza il limite dell’architettura, quando si progetta, egli dice, che non si tiene quasi mai in considerazione l’ambiente economico e sociale delle persone, che poi andranno a vivere in quel contesto. Il ruolo dell’architetto ha chiarito il relatore è inclusivo e partecipativo: attraverso l’ascolto dei reali bisogni della collettività delle loro istanze, che le fa sue, per poi portarle e porle in evidenza davanti all’ Amministrazioni Comunale. L’intervento dell’architetto nel progetto di pianificazione urbana è sia determinante che risolutivo per dare un’identità al quartiere e agli spazi urbani, inoltre può fare la differenza sulla qualità della vita dei suoi abitanti. A supporto di questa affermazione l’architetto ha mostrando alcuni esempi di progettazione innovativa come la House Factory a Barcellona e la pianificazione urbana a misura di bambino a Tokyo, dimostrando come tali progetti hanno avuto un impatto positivo sulla vita urbana creando un “benessere ” diffuso. Gli argomenti e i temi affrontati dall’architetto Royo in questa conferenza sono contenuti nel suo libro dal titolo “L’architetto come facilitatore” già il vocabolo facilitatore assume, secondo me, un fondamento sociale, oggi, così necessario per la formazione di una nuova generazione di architetti.


    The architect Raul Avilla-Royo interestingly brought our attention to the new ways of practicing architecture, driven by a growing interest in collaborative projects and community practices. As a result, organizations and municipal councils around the world are involving more and more users in the process of making decisions on the urban environment. Citizens themselves also increasingly demand to exercise this right. Also, it was very inspiring to know that a new generation of architects is emerging who understand the figure of the architect as a facilitator and mediator, who are committed to local communities, responding to the day-to-day needs and daily problems of the city. Instead of waiting for a public or private commission, these architects actively analyze and respond to existing needs. This process is giving rise to new professional roles, tools, project strategies, and new forms of collective decision-making. He also brought some examples of different projects that belong to different historical or geographical contexts, showing that seemingly unrelated projects share the same architectural thinking, despite differing in context, objectives, budget, or even type of project. For me, the lecture was also very informative from this point of view of how after a while the new generation should criticize and reconsider the way in which their ancestors work. In the case of architecture, giving more space to different opinions of different stakeholders rather than following the approach of Gods of modern architecture such as lokorbozie and Mies van der Rohe.

  17. Ala Nouri

    The lecture discussed about multifaceted challenges within urban environments and the evolving role of architects among societal dynamics. It highlighted how tourism, while visually enticing, can exacerbate social and political tensions, such as heightened unemployment rates, emphasizing the need for architects to consider broader societal impacts. It also discussed about the importance of reclaiming public spaces through community initiatives, talking about how architecture intersects with political and economic crises.
    Furthermore, the lecture highlighted the responsibilities of architects, stressing the significance of understanding cultural contexts and engaging with local communities for effective urban solutions. It showcased innovative projects like the House Factory in Barcelona and child-friendly urban planning in Tokyo, demonstrating architecture’s potential to enhance community well-being.
    The presentation also emphasized the collaborative nature of architecture, advocating for inclusive and participatory approaches to address societal challenges. Through case studies and practical insights, the lecturer elucidated the importance of architects being facilitators rather than sole problem solvers, fostering empowerment and collective engagement in the design process.

  18. Mihriban Benk

    Architect Raul Avilla Royo’s lecture emphasized architects responsibility to prioritize people’s needs in urban design. He advocated for community involvement in city planning to address challenges effectively. Using Barcelona as a case study, Royo illustrated how focusing solely on tourism can harm local residents. He stressed architects’ duty to create safe and functional spaces while considering local culture and input. The lecture showcased projects worldwide that improve urban living and community well-being. Royo highlighted the importance of architects advocating for residents in city development. Ultimately, he emphasized the critical role architects play in creating cities that work for everyone.

  19. Kosar Mohammadi

    In Architect Raul Avilla Royo’s lecture, one intriguing concept was the definition of architecture as establishing the rules of the game. Rather than viewing users solely through the lens of commercialized architects, they are seen as independent agents of change, shaping architecture without the direct involvement of architects. This perspective broadens the role of architects beyond mere shape designers to essential contributors to the functionality of these agents. It emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary research in architectural design, as architecture unfolds across various dimensions and scales. Architects serve as mediators between the rigid yet adaptable boundaries of individuals and cities. My interest in this topic was sparked by studying how traditional urban and housing structures in countries like Iran can serve as tools of power, particularly in the suppression of women and the establishment of power hierarchies within specific socio-political contexts. Consequently, architects bear the weight of greater responsibility in shaping spaces that are not neutral or static but rather act as narratives of lives and silent catalysts for multi-scale changes and events: like when the door becomes a decision, and the square morphs into revolution.

  20. Shadi Masihi pour

    In his lecture , Architect Raul Avilla Royo talked about the expanded role of architects and architecture beyond singular buildings, emphasizing their impact on urban and societal dynamics. Drawing from personal experiences as an architecture student in Barcelona during economic turmoil and as a practicing architect worldwide, he reflected on the portrayal of architecture within academic institutions, particularly noting its absence from humanities faculties. What particularly stood out to me among these cases was the case of the OAXACA project, where urban interventions such as street art and traffic management altered human behavior, fostering community engagement, and enhancing safety. This initiative paralleled my recent research on Communa 13 in Colombia, where graffiti movements catalyzed societal transformation from violence to cohesion. The presentation underscored the dynamic power interplay among government, architects, and urban inhabitants in reshaping urban landscapes, providing an inspiring narrative of collaborative urban renewal.


    In his presentation, architect Raul Avilla Royo delved into the multifaceted role of architects as enablers of the urban fabric, emphasising their ability to transcend traditional boundaries and engage with communities on a deeper level. Avilla Royo emphasised the importance of incorporating a user perspective into the architectural process, highlighting the transformative potential of collaborative design methods. Comparisons with historical precedents such as Sherry Arnstein’s advocacy for population engagement illustrate how architects can be catalysts for positive change, navigating the intricate interplay between social, economic, and cultural dynamics. Avilla Royo’s insights resonate deeply with contemporary challenges, echoing Melisa Domanic’s emphasis on the need for collaborative solutions to complex urban problems. By advocating a holistic approach to architecture that prioritises user empowerment and community participation, Avilla Royo reaffirms the key role of architects as stewards of the built environment and agents of social transformation.

  22. Devanshi Thakuriya

    The lecture on architecture examined the problems that arise in urban environments and the changing roles that architects play in social circumstances. More than ever, it emphased how people of the city can be better architects of the place than any architect as they the root of the space, its cultural, emotional, functional values altogether. It was emphasized how architects’ roles are changing to take into account not just aesthetics but also this utility, inclusivity, and the effects on society while creating their designs.
    The talk also underlined the significance of public areas that social movements have taken back, stressing the connection between architecture and political and financial problems.The talk also emphasized creative architectural initiatives that illustrate how designs may have a good influence on urban life and community well-being, such Tokyo’s child-friendly urban planning and Barcelona’s House Factory.


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