This 19th-century farmhouse surrounded by the forests of Collserola Park on the eastern edge of Barcelona is a centre for research and learning and part of the international Fab Labs network, research laboratories conceived. It is also supported by the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT.

Green Fab Lab aims to respond simultaneously to three challenges that future architecture must deal with: the protection of nature, energy efficiency, and sustainability. This includes producing food in organic orchards and generating energy from renewable sources – sun, wind, water, biomass and biogas, all extracted from the area’s local resources.

Eventually, the Lab wants to convert the historical Can Valldaura farmhouse, formerly the site of a Cistercian monastery and a palace of the Crown of Aragón, into a centre for education with orchards, a biomass plant, a small windmill, energy storage units, sensors placed on trees to measure their growth and their ability to absorb CO2, and other instruments will allow better insights into the production of food, energy and goods using local materials from the farm. You know how long a metre or how heavy a kilo is, but do you have a concrete idea of what one kilowatt of energy is? No? Green Fab Lab will be the place to learn that.

This and more inspiring projects can be found in the print copy of A smart guide to Utopia or the ebook version.