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.

© 2022 EPFL

The Re:Crete footbridge awarded by 'Booster du Réemploi'

— The Re:Crete footbridge was awarded a mention in the 'Trophées Bâtiments Circulaires' this Tuesday September 20th in Paris. The award falls in the 'hors-cadre' category and is given for the footbridge's technical challenge. The 'Trophées Bâtiments Circulaires' is a competition organized by the 'Booster du réemploi', with support from Construction21. Its aim is to promote exemplary circular buildings. Developed at the Structural Xploration Lab, the Re:Crete footbridge is an arch made of reclaimed pieces of cast-in-place concrete walls. It is installed and used since this Spring in Conthey, Wallis.

© 2022 EPFL

C. Küpfer & M. Sivers @ SBE22 in Berlin

— Célia Küpfer (PhD candidate at SXL) and Maria Sivers (PhD candidate at EAST and SXL) are both presenting at the 2022 'Sustainable Built Environment' D-A-CH conference, happening this week in Berlin. On September 21st, 4:30pm, Célia Küpfer will give results on two case studies of environmental and economic analysis of new construction techniques reusing existing concrete elements (session: Circularity III, co-authored with M. Bastien Masse, J. Devènes and C. Fivet). On September 22nd, 1:30pm, Maria Sivers will review circular economy digital market solutions for reuse in the European construction sector (poster session, co-authored with M. Fröhlich and C. Fivet). The conference is hosted by the Natural Building Lab of TU Berlin in cooperation with KIT Karlsruhe, ETH Zürich and TU Graz.

© 2022 EPFL

SXL presenting at Footbridge 2022

— The Structural Xploration Lab is presenting the Re:Crete arch at the 2022 Footbridge conference, on Wednesday Sept. 7th, in Madrid. The talk will be delivered by Jan Brütting, co-author with Julie Devènes, Maléna Bastien Masse, Célia Küpfer and Corentin Fivet of the paper "Re:Crete – A footbridge made of reused reinforced concrete blocks". Organized since 2002, the conference is the meeting point for European footbridge designers.

© 2022 EPFL

C.Fivet invited by "Architectes pour le climat"

— Professor Corentin Fivet (Structural Xploration Lab) is joining a round table organized by the young Swiss association "Architectes pour le climat / Architekten für das Klima", this Tuesday September 6th in Fribourg. The theme of the day is "Climate emergency and construction: What practical and political means of action?". The panel also includes: Jean-François Steiert, State Councillor in charge of territorial development, infrastructures, mobility and environment; Enrico Slongo, City Architect of Fribourg; Véronique Favre, architect, FAZ architects in Geneva; Stéphane Fuchs, architect, office ATBA SA in Geneva.

© 2022 EPFL

The SXL welcomes T. Messina as administrative assistant

— The Structural Xploration Lab is pleased to welcome Ms. Teresa Messina as new administrative assistant. With a strong background in private industry, Ms. Messina joined EPFL on September 1st. She is taking over the administration of SXL, ICE, and Building2050. Welcome! The tasks were previously held by Ms. Marjolein Schmitt, who left EPFL for a new adventure abroad. Ms. Schmitt joined EPFL and the Smart Living Lab in 2018 and worked for the Structural Xploration Lab since January 2020. We sincerely thank her for the excellent work that has been done throughout. We'll miss you!

© 2022 EPFL

Libra Workshop at eCAADe 2022

— On Septembre 16th, Ioannis Mirtsopoulos (Structural Xploration Lab), will host a workshop on Libra, a soon-to-be-released plugin for Rhino+Grasshopper that allows free exporation of topological configurations. The workshop is part of the eCAADe conference 2022, the 40th Education and research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe (eCAADe) Conference, held this year at the KULeuven, Belgium.

© 2022 EPFL

Keynote lecture at REM Millenium

— Prof. Corentin Fivet (Structural Xploration Lab) will give a keynote lecture at the upcoming REM Millenium event, this Thursday Sept. 1st, 2022. REM Millenium is the premium event for all stakeholders of Swiss Real Estate. C. Fivet will address the issue of resources in today's highly-questionable economic context. The lecture will be followed by a round table with Claire Gabarrou (Romande Energie), Régis Cornaz (Steiner), and Frédéric Dreyer (Fustic). Our management of resources – be they energy, material or human – is today deeply questioned. The building sector is particularly pointed out and must face many environmental, economic and social challenges. How to decorrelate demographic densification and extraction of raw materials? How to decorrelate greenhouse gas emissions and increase the quality of life? How can we decorrelate building obsolescence and waste production? How to decorrelate economic stability and renewal of the real estate stock? The answers must be immediate, systemic and effective. Will they be?

© 2022 EPFL

Open-access paper on Re:Crete in 'Structures' journal

— Our open-access paper on "Re:Crete – Reuse of concrete blocks from cast-in-place building to arch footbridge" is now published in Structures, the research journal by the Institution of Structural Engineers (Elsevier). Authored by J. Devènes, J. Brütting, C. Küpfer, M. Bastien Masse, and C. Fivet from the Structural Xploration Lab, the peer-reviewed paper presents the entire design and construction process of the footbridge. It concludes with a comparative life-cycle assessment of the footbridge and four alternatives: reused concrete outperforms recycled concrete and recycled steel; and is almost as 'green' as timber!

© 2022 Stefana Parascho

New postdoc position on Robotic Reconfiguration of Structures

— As part of a collaborative research project between CRCL and SXL, we are looking for a highly motivated Postdoc Researcher starting Fall 2022. The 2-year project has been awarded an ENAC Interdisciplinary Cluster Grant and aims at combining the two labs’ expertise to develop sustainable construction methods. It particularly focuses on bringing together structural design, robotic construction and material reuse to successfully decrease construction waste. The project will focus on the reconfiguration of existing timber structures and investigate new methods of planning, designing, sequencing and robotic diss- and reassembly. The research will be conducted through a continuous feedback between digital design and physical prototyping at various scales. The Postdoc Researcher will be hosted by both labs continuously.

© 2022 EPFL

The Re:Crete footbridge featured in architektur.aktuell

— The Re:Crete footbridge is showcased in the latest issue of architektur.aktuell, the Austria-based architecture journal. The German-speaking article authored by Klara Jorg follows an interview with Maléna Bastien-Masse and Corentin Fivet from the Structural Xploration Lab. The article is part of a special issue on "Klima-neutralität, strategies of decarbonization".

All news