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

M. Bastien Masse talks at the CAS on Regenerative Materials

— Maléna Bastien Masse (SXL, EPFL) is giving a 2-hour lecture on "Re-valuing the building stock" this Tuesday in Zürich, as part of the ETH Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) on 'Regenerative Materials'. The 5-weeks program leads designers and builders towards a more sustainable use of building material resources. Postdoc Bastien Masse will review current barriers, opportunities, strategies and metrics of component reuse in architecture and engineering, a key strategy to achieve a circular economy in the construction industry.

© 2022 EPFL

Bachelor students create benches from waste

— Last week, two dozens bachelor students from ENAC joined the Smart Living Lab in Fribourg to design and build 5 benches made of local industrial waste. The one-week workshop is a 'semaine ENAC' organized by the Structural Xploration Lab for students in architecture, civil and environmental engineering. Named "Constructive Second-Hand", it invites students to identify the embedded technology in recurrent waste and use design as an opportunity to reclaim that lost technology in the best way possible. This year brief for each group was a bench.

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C.Fivet to speak at HiFlow Geneva

— On Thursday May 19th, Prof. Corentin Fivet will take part in a conference series curated by HiFlow Geneva. He will address recent trends on how academic research contributes to sustainable construction in the circular economy. During the same night, he will be followed by Alex Muresan, CEO of Aeternum, and three EPFL students from the interdisciplinary MAKE project on Reversible and Low-Tech Construction (Maria Loizou, Elena Passaretti, Lancelot Graulich), co-advised by the Structural Xploration Lab. Other panelists include Pierre-Alain L'Hôte (FMB), Jean-Yves Coste et Thibaut Gillig (Steiner AG), and Guillaume de Morsier (Kunik de Morsier).

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Corentin Fivet invited at La Cambre/Horta

— Prof. Corentin Fivet is invited at the La Cambre/Horta school of Architecture (Université de Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium) for a talk on "Upcycling Design, or how to recover the carrying capacity of waste", as part of the conference series on the "Culture du bâti" curated by Laura Ceriolo. The intervention addresses the challenges and opportunities of reuse in construction, the role of design to enhance the intrinsic qualities of recovered components, and the potential that such an approach provides in terms of constructive quality and environmental gains. Corentin Fivet will present the activities of the Structural Xploration Lab, whose research aims to make load-bearing structures in buildings more circular.

© 2022 EPFL

The Structural Xploration Lab at Energissima 2022

— The Structural Xploration Lab is taking part in Energissima 2022, the Romandie fair of sustainable solutions for construction, housing and mobility. On Friday 10h30, PhD Maléna Bastien Masse is joining Smart Living Lab colleagues and other professionals for a round table on "Sustainable construction – new materials and alternatives to concrete", following an invitation by Energie-FR. On Friday 13h, Prof. Corentin Fivet is providing a lecture on "Circular construction and the energy transition", following an invitation by EPFL Energy Center. Throughout the entire event, prototypes of the "Build-Unbuild-Repeat" joint research project between SXL (EPFL) and the iTEC institute (HEIA-FR) will be exhibited next to the Smart Living Lab area. The research project led to the creation of Aeternum startup.

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Installation of the RE:CRETE footbridge in Conthey, VS

— The RE:CRETE footbridge, a post-tensioned arch designed by the Structural Xploration Lab and reusing cut blocks of old concrete walls left its construction hall and was installed in Conthey, Wallis (CH) on Thursday April 14th, 2022. The footbridge will facilitate soft mobility during the redevelopment of the Pont-de-la-Morge intersection, in a sector where traffic is currently impaired. This real-life setting will allow the researchers to study the behaviour of the structure when subjected to external constraints. For safety purposes, guardrails, also built with reused materials, have been installed for the users. The installation was made possible thanks to the support of the Canton of Wallis, Mobility Department and Vincent Pellissier, cantonal engineer. The footbridge is expected to come back to Fribourg in two years.

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Corentin Fivet joins the board of Cirkla

— On their recent general assembly (March 23, 2022), members of Cirkla have elected Prof. Corentin Fivet as member of the executive board of Cirkla. Cirkla is a young umbrella organization that connects all the actors of reuse (organizations, companies and private individuals) in Switzerland. Its goal is to make the reuse scene more visible and more efficient. It gathers supply, demand and know-how of reuse.

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Opinion paper in Stahlbau journal

— Following an invitation by the Swiss Center for Steel Construction (SZS), Prof. Corentin Fivet (Structural Xploration Lab) has authored an opinion piece arguing for the reuse of steel members in building structures. The 6-page-long paper is published in the latest Stahlbau issue (Volume 91, Issue 4), Ernst & Sohn (Wiley).

© 2022 EPFL

Successful application to the OFEN SWEET call

— The SWICE consortium, of which the Structural Xploration Lab is a partner, has been selected for the SWEET (“SWiss Energy research for the Energy Transition”) program funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (OFEN/BFE). The winning consortium, led by Prof. Marilyne Andersen (EPFL), consists of 10 higher education institutions and 30 industrial partners across Switzerland. Worth a total of 22 MCHF, the collaborative project will last 8 years. It aims at developing sustainable systems that can also increase users’ comfort and well-being. The Structural Xploration Lab will work closely with the TRANSFORM institute (HEIA-FR) and the EMPA on a work-package dedicated to the life-cycle and circular assessments of neighborhoods.

© 2022 EPFL

Swiss pavilion at the Venice Biennale – 2nd place

— A few months ago, the Structural Xploration Lab teamed up with architecture office Neume, artist Augustin Rebetez, and curator Camille Regli. The team competed against 58 other applications for occupying the Swiss Pavilion at the next Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2023, managed by ProHelvetia. We are happy to share that our proposal made it to the second place of the competition.

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