ETH Zurich’s HiLo unit raises the bar for sustainable concrete design

The project was designed by ROK Architekten, based in Zurich, in collaboration with the Block Research Group and the Architecture and Building Systems research group of ETH Zurich. those that were buildable with more humble materials available at the time. This resulted in the use of typical structural typologies that we are familiar with at that time, such as domes and arches, ”notes Dr Tom Van Mele, senior scientist at the Block Research Group. “With HiLo floors, we are bringing back those curved geometries to cover the space more efficiently, with much less material and with less resistant materials, while keeping the materials separate so that they can be easily recycled at the end of their life. Digital manufacturing technologies provide a way to fabricate and construct these curved geometries compared to more traditional floor plate solutions. “

Construction began in September 2019 with the completion of the formwork system, although colder than expected temperatures this winter pushed concreting into the fall of 2020. Medieval construction techniques manifest themselves largely through the geometry of the building. structure. The roof was shaped by a flexible formwork system which deploys a net of cables stretched inside the bounding frame as the main load-bearing element and a tensioned membrane acts as a layer of formwork. This same cable net is reinforced by a doubly curved geometry which deforms in its final form under the weight of the sprayed wet concrete.

The office space on the east side with a view of the adaptive solar facade and the lower surface of the light floor construction. WITH THE AUTHORIZATION OF ROMAN KELLER

“All the key details of the roof structure and its formwork system were worked out through prototyping in collaboration with experts and industry partners. The principles of the solutions developed have been integrated into a flexible workflow from design to manufacture implemented with COMPAS, the open source computing framework for research and collaboration in engineering and construction in architecture ”, details ETH Zürich in a press release. “This workflow served as a hub for IT development, coordination and planning of key innovations, and provided a mechanism for effective transfer from research to practice.”

The sustainability and effectiveness of the project extend beyond the roof structure. At the floor plate, the team developed a rib-reinforced funicular system that transfers loads to the corners of the structure, which reduced approximately 70% of the concrete and 90% of the reinforcing steel typically applied. to a reinforced concrete floor slab. The reduction in the width of the slab also allowed the integration of heating and cooling pipes to establish a highly efficient radiant panel thermal system. In the facade, the team also incorporated 30 flexible photovoltaic modules that can be adjusted to maximize solar energy or to control how sunlight enters the module.

As HiLo is the eighth module of NEST, the research building will continue to evolve in the years to come as a proving ground for building scientists, engineers and industrial partners. Let’s see what the folks at ETH Zurich have to offer next.

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