”NEST will allow us to develop energy-efficient, CO2-neutral buildings offering a high level of comfort and convenience to its users.” Ralph Eichler, President ETH Zürich
The built environment is a key element of our society in terms of quality of life and well-being, but it comes at a cost. Buildings account for half the energy demand in Switzerland, and every year ten tons of construction materials per capita are being used up. At the same time, demand for new buildings continues to grow.
The industry needs to develop new ideas and concepts if these challenges are to be addressed in a sustainable way. However, few companies are willing (or able) to take the risk of bringing innovations to market when faced with high investment costs and a vast amount of building regulations.
This gap may now be closed by NEST (Next Evolution in Sustainable Building Technologies), an experimental new building project in Zurich which will provide a ‘live’ test centre for the scientific evaluation of pilot projects that aim to make buildings sustainable and more affordable. NEST will also provide an international showcase for visions and innovations in the construction industry.
NEST consists of a core load-bearing building delivering services and media to around 50 exchangeable living and office modules. Each ‘Plug and Play’ module allows new materials and construction ideas to be developed and tested in real-world conditions. Operating as a ‘future living and working lab’, NEST aims to progress innovations from drawing board to market swiftly and efficiently.
“What thrills me about this joint initiative is the unique opportunity it offers to our partners from industry to test, evaluate and optimize their innovations for future living and working concepts in a real-world setting.” Gian-Luca Bona, Director Empa
As it is a flagship project of EMPA (the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) and EAWAG, (the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology), in collaboration with ETH Zurich (the Federal Institute for Technology, Zurich), NEST is backed by state-of-the-art knowledge in scientific research and development. It will also bring together leading partners from industry and several national and international universities.
The research and development modules will be clustered thematically, focussing attention on ‘hot topics’ within construction, with a view to attracting the brightest ideas from industry and academia. Key themes currently include: Working environments of the future, Glass architecture, Light weight construction, Modular homes, Natural construction and Smart Homes.
One module already planned for construction within NEST is HiLo, a two-storey penthouse living and working area for academic guests.
The penthouse is designed as an energy plus building with flexible solar modules that track the sun, generating electricity but also providing shade and access to daylight as required.
Construction of the core NEST building will start next month on the ETH Zurich campus at Dübendorf. The first modules will be installed in parallel, with a view to NEST being fully operational by the end of 2015.
As we are only able to cover a fraction of the information available on this exciting project, we highly recommend a visit to the NEST website.
- For full details visit the NEST website >
- For more information about Federal Institute for Technology, Zurich, visit the ETH Zurich website >
- For more information on the development of HiLo lightweight concrete construction at NEST, visit the HiLo website >
- Interested in the architecture? Visit the Gramazio & Kohler website >
Image credits: EMPA / Gramazio & Kohler
The NEST sustainable building project features in the July 2014 edition of Rhine Capital Partners monthly investment updates.
- On 26th July 2014