The Bartlett School of Architecture

Prof Marcos Cruz

Prof Marcos Cruz

Professor of Innovative Environments

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
25th Sep 2006

Research summary

Bio-Integrated Design

The design of urban habitat today is being shaped by the outcomes of two key revolutions, biotechnology and computation, and our exposure to the long-lasting effects of climate change. Bio-Integrated Design takes these life-changing phenomena as the foundation for radically new, yet also critical design solutions that help developing our future built environment. Nature plays a central role that goes beyond being a simple environmental regulator, model or inspiration; it is in itself the medium of a multi-layered design approach that is biologically, materially and socially integrated.


Bio-Integrated Design embraces a wide range of expertise, including high-end design and computation; biology and lab protocols; multifunctional materials and space; fabrication and environment. It combines in unique way scientific methods with design experimentation, looking for new modes of simulation and production, and how advances in biotechnology, synthetic biology and material science are leading towards a truly interdisciplinary design.

Bioreceptive Design
with Richard Beckett and Javier Ruiz

There is urgency to improve the environmental quality of cities where the present 'greening' of urban spaces is an ongoing response to a dirty industrial present and past. The architectural fabric with its building envelopes, roofs, and façades offers a great opportunity to provide passive climatic control, as well as aiding storm-water management and creating new ecological habitat, in addition to lowering atmospheric CO2.

Where the metaphor for green walls might be seen as a 'vegetative skin' bolted onto a vertical surface, a more biologically intelligent idea is that of an 'bark', whereby buildings act as hosts for an ever-evolving ecology. Bioreceptive Design explore architectural barks that offer a material-tectonic-environmental interface between nature and architecture.

Computational Seeding of Bioreceptive Materials - EPSRC funded research
Prof Marcos Cruz (PI), Richard Beckett, Dr Sandra Manso, Dr Chris Leung, Bill Watts

The research focuses on developing a new type of bioreceptive façade panels for the built environment. Using a novel type of bioreceptive concrete and environmentally driven design, the panels aim to promote micro-organic growth directly on building façades and infrastructure walls.

The Body in Architecture

The research questions our human flesh and its altered relationship with a new contemporary architectural flesh. The analyses of different body conceptions in historic and aesthetic terms helps to recognize the emergence of a Cyborgian Body. Today's architecture has failed the body with its long heritage of physical detachment, purity of form, and aesthetics of cleanliness. But a resurgence of interest in flesh has led to politics of abjection, changing completely traditional aesthetics, and is now giving light to an alternative vision of the body in architecture. Flesh is seen as a concept that extends the meaning of skin as one of architecture's most fundamental metaphors, putting forward a 'thick embodied flesh' by creating architectural interfaces that are truly inhabitable.

Teaching summary

Marcos Cruz's varied teaching activity as an investigator, tutor and critic has been carried out in numerous international universities, but most of all at University College London where he is academically active since 1999. He is currently running and teaching in various programmes, including the the MArch/MSc BioID; MArch Unit 20 and MArch AD; and PhD-by-Design programme.

From September 2018, Cruz is the Programme Director of the newly established 21-months MArch/MSc in Bio-Integrated Design, which is the only one of its kind offered by a world-leading architecture school that embraces design experimentation, while applying real biologic growth to the built environment. The MArch is entirely design-focused, while the MSc is more science-driven and conjointly run between the Bartlett and the Department of Biochemical Engineering (co-director Dr Brenda Parker).

The rC7/BiotA Lab is a research cluster within the 1-year MArch AD that is focused on advanced computational design with a strong emphasis on novel bioreceptive materials. The cluster is co-tutored with Richard Beckett and Javier Ruiz.

Unit 20 was initiated by Marcos Cruz and Prof. Salvador Perez Arroyo in 1999. Marjan Colletti joined in 2004, with other tutors including Hannes Mayer (2012), Richard Beckett (2013-15), and Javier Ruiz (since 2017). The unit is focused on crossing boundaries of the traditional architectural practice, investigating advances in a wide range of sciences, with the aim to create innovative conditions in architecture and the urban environment. Objects in our daily life are under reconsideration leading to an understanding of buildings and urban environments that are created by many different strata, scientific knowledge, artefacts, and micro-worlds; an architecture that is in its conceptual, spatial, and technological dimension multifaceted, hybrid and interdisciplinary.

The work of  Unit 20 has been extensively published and exhibited and many projects awarded national and international prizes. In 2002 Cruz was co-editor of the book Unit 20, published by

Universidad de Valencia / ACTAR, which presented a comprehensive documentation of the unit’s research. It was followed-up with two other publications published by LISt Lab 2014/16. Unit 20 was also recurrently chosen the Best-Unit-in-Show at the Bartlett Summer Show with award given by Thom Mayne (2002), Paul Finch (2006), Richard Rogers (2007), Claude Parent (2013), and Ross Lovegrove (2017).

Cruz is a PhD supervisor at the Bartlett UCL.

Current students include:

- Principal Supervisor: Nina Jotanovic (Secondary Supervisor Prof Marc-Olivier Coppens/CNIE)

- Secondary Supervisor: Malica Schmidt (Principal Supervisor Prof Marc-Olivier Coppens/CNIE)

- Principal Supervisor: Shneel Malik (Secondary Supervisor Dr Brenda Parker/BioChemEng)

- Secondary Supervisor: Niccolo Casas (Principal Supervisor Prof Marjan Colletti/Bartlett)

Past students include:

- Principal Supervisor: Jaime Bartolome (Secondary Supervisor Prof Peg Rawes/Bartlett; 2018)

- Principal Supervisor (up to MPhil level): Richard Beckett (Secondary Supervisor Prof Mark Miodownik/Mechanical Engineering)

- Secondary Supervisor: Pablo Gil (Principal Supervisor Prof Stephen Gage/Bartlett; 2016)

- Principal Supervisor: Alessandro Ayuso (Secondary Supervisor Prof Jonathan Hill/Bartlett; 2015)

- Secondary Supervisor: Michael Wihart (Principal Supervisor Prof Neil Spiller/Bartlett; 2014)


University College London
PhD, Architecture | 2007
University College London
MArch, Architecture | 1999
Escola Superior Artistica do Porto (ESAP), Porto
LCT, Architecture | 1997


Marcos Cruz is a Professor of Innovative Environments at the Bartlett, UCL. His research has focused for many years on bio-integrated design in buildings. He currently runs Bio-ID with Dr Brenda Parker, a multidisciplinary research platform and Masters programme that investigates design that is driven by advances in bio-technology, computation, materials and fabrication. He co-editor of Syn.de.Bio and previously co-directed the BiotA Lab (2014-18).

Cruz was the Director of the Bartlett from 2010-14, having fostered its internationalization and uncontested reputation at the UK's leading architecture school. His varied teaching activity as an investigator, tutor and critic has been carried out at the University of Westminster (2008-10), UCLA (2010), and IAAC (2014- ), but most of all at University College London where he ran MArch Unit 20 for 19 years, as well as rC7 in the MArch AD for 4 years. He is also regularly invited as an adviser to academic institutions as well as a jury member of International competitions.

Cruz studied at the ESAP Porto and ETSAB Barcelona. After moving to London he gained a Masters degree with distinction and a PhD degree sponsored by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology in 2007. His investigations about Neoplasmatic Architecture won the RIBA President’s Research Award in 2008.

In 2000 he was part of the design team for the Kunsthaus Graz competition (P Cook and C Fournier, first prize). In the same year Cruz co-founded MAM-ARCH London (former marcosandmarjan), whose work has been extensively exhibited, including the Venice and S.Paulo Biennale, along with solo exhibitions in Hamburg and Braunschweig. MAM-ARCH built buildings and pavilions and won several competitions. Their work is part of the permanent collection of the FRAC Orleans.

Selected books and articles:

- Vivaldi J, Cesareo C. 'M Cruz - Bio-integrated Design', in Dark Ecologies, IaaC Bits (2018)

- Cruz M. 'Poikilohydric Design', in Design with Life: Biotech Architecture and Resilient Cities / Terreform ONE, ACTAR (2018)

- Cruz M. 'Paramateriality', in Architectural Materialisms: Nonhuman Creativity (Edinburgh University Press, 2018)

- Cruz M, Colletti M. 'Advancing the Vernacular: Hi-tech Meets Low-tech', in HABITAT, Thames and Hudson (2017)

- Cobas M. 'La Imperfeccion Como Oportunidad', in Entrevistas 3, FARQ (2017)

- Colletti M, Cruz M (eds.). Unit 20: Hyper-Articulated Morphologies, LISt Lab (2016)

- Cruz M, Beckett R. 'Bioreceptive Design', in ARQ Vol. 20 Issue1, Cambridge University Press (2016)

- Cruz M. El Cuerpo Habitable de la Arquitectura, FARQ (2015)

- Paz Agras L. 'M Cruz - Arquitectura como Ecologia', in Dardo Magazine, (2014)

- Cruz M. 'Architectural Eduction Today, The School of Tomorrow', in Dealing with Change, ENHSA (2014)

- Colletti M, Cruz M, Beckett R (eds.). Unit 20: poroCITY, LISt Lab (2014)

- Cruz M. The Inhabitable Flesh of Architecture, Ashgate (2013)

- Cruz M (ed.). Bartlett Books 2011-2013, UCL (2011, 2012, 2013)

- Cruz M. 'Lateral Design', in Archithese (2010)

- Cruz M, Colletti M. 'The Return of the Figural', in Beyond (2010)

- Manolopoulou Y, Colletti M, Cruz M (eds.). PhD Research Projects, UCL (2009)

- Cruz M, Pike S (eds.). AD - Neoplasmatic Design Vol. 78 No. 6, Wiley (2008)

- Cruz M, Colletti M. marcosandmarjan - Interfaces/Intrafaces, Springer (2005)

- Furtado G. Cruz M - Unpredictable Flesh, Mimesis (2004)

- Perez Arroyo S, Cruz M (eds.). Unit 20, University of Valencia/ACTAR (2002)

- Cruz M (ed.). Flesh and Vision, Forum da Maia (2000)