International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

  • Palmira, Colombia is home to one of the world’s leading tropical agriculture centres, CIAT.
  • In order to expand their research capabilities, we are working with CIAT to design a plant gene bank.

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), founded in 1967, is a non-profit research organization that aims to reduce hunger and poverty and improve human nutrition. In order to expand its research capabilities, CIAT wants to build a gene bank focused on researching yucca, beans, and grasses. CIAT launched a design competition, won by a Colombian architecture firm based in Medellin, AEV Arquitectos.

The concept design for the new CIAT gene bank embraces flexibility and sustainability, aiming to deliver a state-of-the-art, net zero, high performing building in a hot and humid climate. The design includes a canopy that acts as a breathable façade and accommodates modular laboratories, as well as offering a learning centre open to the public.

Arup worked with AEV and CIAT on how to best achieve the project’s goals, in particular those related to sustainability and implementation. Working closely with the architects and the CIATs microclimate consultant, Arup detailed the canopy and lab façades and provided design assistance with respect to the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, as well as the microclimate assessment.

With the client’s high sustainability standards in mind, Arup helped CIAT understand the path to LEED Platinum certification and Labs21 benchmarking, and also introduced The Living Building Challenge as another potential rigorous sustainability avenue.


  • CIAT. Credit AEV Arquitectos.Open gallery

    This new facility will offer a learning center that is open to the public.