Structural Xploration Lab

Uniting architecture and structural design, we are paving the way for the upcycling reuse of load-bearing components in buildings, hence contributing to the adoption of a circular economy by the construction industry. We also devise new computational means to enhance designer-machine collaborations at the early stages of the architectural/structural design process. Our research and education activities are driven by sustainability challenges, rooted in history, embracing complexity, and boosted by digital technology.

Launched in July 2016, the Structural Xploration Lab is led by Corentin Fivet, tenure-track assistant professor of Architecture and Structural Design at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). The lab is attached to the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC), is part of the Institute of Architecture (IA) and has connections with the Civil Engineering Institute (IIC). The lab is active in the teaching of structures and construction systems to architects (SAR).

The Structural Xploration Lab is also an integral member of the Smart Living Lab, a joint facility between EPFL, UniFr, and HEIA-FR, in Fribourg, Switzerland. The Smart Living Lab engages effective multi-disciplinary research on user-centered building technology through close collaboration between universities, private firms and public administrations.

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© 2021 EPFL

SXL featured in latest iStructE guidance

— Works performed by the Structural Xploration Lab are featured in "Design for zero", the latest guidance published by the Institution of Structural Engineers (UK) and authored by J. Orr, M. Cooke, T. Ibell, C. Smith & N. Watson. The extensive 177-page long book browses, explains, and illustrates all strategies available to architects, engineers, and builders in order to decrease the environmental footprint of buildings and infrastructure. The SXL's contribution (pages 73 to 75) supports the case for component reuse in load-bearing systems.

© 2021 EPFL

J. Brütting awarded the 2021 EDCE distinction

— Jan Brütting, former PhD and postdoctoral researcher at the Structural Xploration Lab, is a winner of the 2021 "EPFL Outstanding Ph.D Thesis Distinction in Civil and Environmental Engineering" for his PhD thesis on "Optimum design of low environmental impact structures through component reuse". The distinction is awarded every year to the best PhD manuscripts handled the previous year to the doctoral school of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Jan Brütting, who now works as structural engineer at Schlaich Bergermann Partner (Germany) is sharing the prize with Josué Gehring from the Environmental Remote Sensing Laboratory. Congratulations!

© 2021 EPFL

Prof. C.Fivet talking at the SIA 're-use' day

— The SIA, Swiss society of engineers and architects, is organizing a full thematic day on reuse in architecture this Wednesday November 24th, 2021. The event is gathering most actors in the field in Switzerland, including Prof. Corentin Fivet who will speak in the early afternoon, followed by an open discussion with former Post-Doc Catherine De Wolf, now Prof. at ETHZ. The event is live broadcasted from the K.118 building, in Winterthur, a renovation project by Bauburo In Situ, recent winner of the global Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction.

© 2021 EPFL

Prof. C.Fivet to talk at the Cooper Union, NYC

— Prof. Corentin Fivet is invited for a guest lecture at The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, at the Cooper Union, the celebrated design school located in the heart of New-York City. He will present recent research outputs from the Structural Xploration Lab. The event is taking place on Monday November 15th, 2pm EST.

© 2021 EPFL

C. Küpfer speaking at U. de Sevilla

— Célia Küpfer was invited to give a lecture at the University of Seville on November 4th. She presented recent results of her research on concrete reuse and decision-making methods for the reuse of structural elements. This presentation took place on the occasion of the launch of the 2021-2022 academic year of the Doctoral School of Architecture of the University of Seville to which the Doctoral Program Architecture and Science of the City (EDAR) of EPFL was invited.

© 2021 EPFL

Prof. C. Fivet to speak at SSD webinar, TUDelft

— Prof. Corentin Fivet will give a talk at the next Sustainable Structural Design webinar, on Friday November 5th, 3pm C.E.T. Organized by the Structures section of the Faculty of Architecture at TUDelft, the webinar series is linked to the New European Bauhaus initiative. Corentin Fivet's talk is titled "Upcycling Structures – Unlocking the reuse potential of load-bearing products" and will present recent research activities by the Structural Xploration Lab.

© 2021 BFH

SXL invited at the Berner Fachhochschule

— The Structural Xploration Lab is giving a talk this Wednesday Nov. 3rd at 2:30pm at the Architecture department of the Berner Fachhochschule. Prof. Corentin Fivet will present recent research activities by the SXL. The invitation is made in the context of the HS21 Special Week: Bauabfälle als Ressourcen – Planen für die Kreislaufwirtschaft.

© 2021 Stemutz

The RE:CRETE footbridge in the news

— Unveiled on October 10th, the RE:CRETE footbridge, a post-tensioned arch made with concrete sections cut from obsolete walls, developed at the Structural Xploration Lab, has since then attracted considerable publicity in Switzerland and abroad. Here is a provisional summary. Thank you very much for everyone's early support!

© 2021 EPFL

Maléna Bastien Masse (SXL) on Swiss National Radio

— This Wednedsday morning, Maléna Bastien Masse, postdoctoral researcher at the Structural Xploration Lab, was interviewed by the Swiss national radio (RTS). For 10 minutes, she presented the recently-unveiled Re:Crete footbridge, a post-tensioned concrete arch made of sections of reinforced-concrete walls, obtained from a building under renovation. She was interviewed by Stéphane Délétroz during the CQFD emission.

The footbridge prototype. © EPFL

Building out of concrete, but without pouring concrete

— EPFL researchers have built a footbridge prototype using reinforced-concrete blocks from walls of a building being renovated. The blocks were cut into individual pieces on site and assembled into a prestressed arch. This project, which marks the first time concrete has been reused in this way, is part of an initiative to substantially shrink the construction industry’s carbon footprint by adopting a circular economy approach. The footbridge will be inaugurated at a ceremony at the Smart Living Lab in Fribourg on 11 October.

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