31 October 2023 Story Built Environment

Constructing our new Timber Series

World Cities Day is 31 October. This year I wanted to use that opportunity to talk about some of the inspiring work Laudes Foundation is doing with our partners – Built by Nature, Climate-KIC and others – in cities in Spain.

The Healthy Clean Cities programme being run by Climate-KIC is an initiative to unite experts, city leaders, citizen groups, and businesses to reduce embodied carbon in new buildings in Madrid and Milan.

As a learning organisation, Laudes Foundation is constantly thinking about how we can improve our grants, better support our partners and ensure our work has the best cut-through to create results we truly desire.

As the first phases of the HCC project ended, and we thought about learnings, we recognised a significant gap was that the stories coming out of the work deserved more visibility.

What was particularly significant was seeing how the Healthy Clean Cities programme was combining and strengthening other partners elsewhere in our network, particularly in Spain.

It has been a significant year for buildings in Spain. This time last year Built by Nature’s Spanish Network ‘Mass Madera’ launched in Barcelona, whilst last month another Laudes Foundation partner – the Green Finance Institute – announced they had expanded their work into the Spanish capital.

As the fourth-largest economy in Europe, Spain’s ability to set precedents and lead by example is clear. Yet we also know that Spain is a particularly forward-looking market when it comes to buildings.

Spanish cities really are the frontrunners in a climate transition of buildings. Four of the ten cities recently awarded the EU Mission Label by the European Commission are in the Spanish national platform formed by the Climate-KIC NetZeroCities programme.

The narrative work we are conducting with our partners 89up showed that Spanish people are the most ‘futurist’ in Europe when thinking about building changes. That is, they are most interested in using technology, the engineering skills of European industry and better local decision making to create the cities of the future.

All these factors pointed decisively to telling the stories of circular buildings in Spain, and specifically timber, to better understand the opportunities as well as tackling some of the myths that remain about timber construction.

We did this filming some of the lead protagonists in timber construction across a new trilogy of short films – Materials, Cities and Finance – showing the increasing focus on our built environment as a climate solution and documenting Spanish cities’ work to accelerate mass timber as a primary building material.

Travelling across Spain to visit factories, forests and seats of government, the films show financiers, city leaders in procurement and academia, designers, and European and national sector networks discussing the market’s changing practices, and the different powers each part of the value chain has to unlock timber construction in Spain.

You can watch them all by using the links below:

MATERIAL – https://vimeo.com/876864449

CITIES – https://vimeo.com/876876388

FINANCING – https://vimeo.com/876856581


  • James Drinkwater

    By James Drinkwater

    Head of Built Environment Programme