Build-Unbuild-Repeat phase 2

Today’s office buildings have increasingly shorter lifespans because of functional obsolescence, not because of degradation or failure. Living needs and working cultures fluctuate quickly, leading to the transformation or demolition of buildings before components reach their actual life expectancy.

In response to this situation, SXL and iTEC are currently developing a load-bearing system for office buildings that can be reassembled multiple times while guaranteeing long-term robustness, low environmental impact, and nearly-infinite adaptability to unforeseen spatial conditions (smart living lab project title:  Build-Unbuild-Repeat – A multi-generation structural system for offices using timber and UHPC elements). The preliminary design of this system is already developed. Real-scale testing is scheduled for this spring.
The goal of the present research is to extend the Build-Unbuild-Repeat project to the building envelope.

Given today’s industrial context in Switzerland, what would be the lightest, most adaptable, reusable envelope system for office buildings? A first, not-yet-confirmed assumption is that the envelope system will be a reconfigurable matrix of customized mono-purpose components: one for natural lighting, one for blind insulation, one for insulation and photovoltaic collection, one for shaded visual connection, etc. Particular attention will be given to the connection details between these components and with the load-bearing system. Integration with other building systems will be considered but not detailed. Concretely, this two-month research includes:
– A review of current (and historical) state of the art.
– The conceptual design of the envelope system.
– The detailed design of the components and their connections.
– The detailed design of the connections between the envelope system and the load-bearing system developed in phase 1.
– Identification of industrial partners
– A comparative life cycle and cost assessment against existing envelope systems.
– Dissemination: Draft of report
and of conference paper.
The potential biggest deliverable of the project is a built prototype of the envelope system, displayed together with the prototype of the structural system developed in phase 1.

For further details, see publications below


Structural Xploration Lab (SXL), EPFL

Laboratory of Construction and Architecture (FAR), EPFL


smart living lab – Fribourg – Switzerland