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

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 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.

© 2021 Foster+Partners

The SXL presenting at Foster+Partners

— The Structural Xploration Lab is invited by the acclaimed architectural design and engineering firm Foster+Partners to present its latest research on circular structural design. This Wednesday October 6th at 2pm (London time), Corentin Fivet is first introducing the SXL projects on reuse in architecture and structures. Jonas Warmuth follows by providing a workshop on Phoenix3D, the recently released Rhino3D plugin that automates the design of truss structures from stocks of reusable components.

© 2021 EPFL

C. Fivet speaking at SteelWeek+

— Prof. Corentin Fivet (Structural Xploration Lab) is speaking at the SteelWeek+ "Metale im bau – innovativ und zirkülar" event this Wednesday October 5, 2021. Organized by the Stahlbau Zentrum Schweiz and traditionally called SteelDay, the event this year spreads over a full week and is broadcasted live every noon. Prof. Fivet's talk "L’acier, réemployable … et à réemployer !" is part of a panel on "Kreislaufwirtschaft: Reinvent-Reuse", moderated by Judit Solt from Tec21, and shared with Marloes Fischer from Madaster and Karl Martin from Sumami.

© 2021 EPFL

Maxence Grangeot awarded a BG prize for his master project

— Maxence Grangeot, who graduated from a master in architecture at EPFL last weekend, has been awarded a "BG Construction et Développement Durable" prize for his excellent master project. His master project consisted in the construction of a new exhibition hall in Wallis, whose building components were extracted from an about-to-be-dismantled oil refinery in the region, and were meant to be reused again in a former ski resort. Combining point-cloud-based automation for the geometric characterization of the reclaimed stock, with design-for-disassembly principles, the project explores the full spectrum of implementing a complete reuse paradigm in architecture.

© 2021 Baubüro in situ

C.Fivet invited for a talk at ETH Zürich

— Prof. Corentin Fivet (Structural Xploration Lab) is invited by Barbara Büser, Valérie Waibel, and Kévin Demierre (Baubüro In Situ) to provide a lecture for the Architectural Design Studio on Re-Use "Selon Arrivage" that they are holding this semester at ETH Zürich, department of architecture. Entitled "Structural reuse – harnessing the load-bearing capabilities of waste.", Prof. Fivet's talk will go through recent developments made by the Structural Xploration Lab and elsewhere in Europe.

© 2021 EPFL - Bibliothèque de Genève

Book release: Selective Deconstruction – Reversible Construction

— The SXL is pleased to announce the release of its book: "Selective deconstruction – reversible construction: Compendium to decrease waste and encourage component reuse in the construction industry", mandated by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment. The 160-page long book is available as a free pdf in French and German. Authored by C. Küpfer and C. Fivet, the book contains case studies, interviews, and syntheses on selective deconstruction and reversible construction practices in Switzerland and beyond. More info is available on the Structural Xploration Lab's website.

© 2021 EPFL

SXL research featured in "Bauteile Wiederverwenden" book

— Research performed at the Structural Xploration Lab (SXL) is featured in the recent book on "Bauteile Wiederverwenden, Ein Kompendium zum zirkulären Bauen" launched this month by the ZHAW and Baubüro in situ, and published at Park Books. The book is authored by Eva Stricker, Guido Brandi, Andreas Sonderegger, Marc Angst, Barbara Buser, and Michel Massmünster. The 4 pages (pp.113-115 and p.124) featuring SXL works are written by Patric Fischli-Boson. ISBN 978-3-03860-259-0

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