HRC Living Lab Grants

Hidden Rivers as social, spatial and ecological continuities in the Lausanne-Morges Agglomeration

Source image: EPFL Lab U, Studio Hidden Rivers, BA5-6 2020-2021


Call for proposals 2021

To encourage ENAC, EPFL and UNIL scientists to focus on the convergence of sustainability, transdisciplinarity and urbanization in transition, the Habitat Research Center has decided to launch for the first time a call for “HRC Living Lab grants”.

The general mission of this call is to promote transdisciplinary collaboration through research and design within the Lausanne-Morges Agglomeration as Living Lab and to explore opportunities and challenges of urbanization in transition related to the theme of “Hidden Rivers” as social, spatial and ecological continuities within the urban and natural environments. The call aims at enabling problem-driven and application-orientated research efforts for sustainable urban and rural development. We expect applicants to explore, initiate, and/or participate in new types of collaborations. This call will support up to three transdisciplinary projects (30k CHF for each project).

The Lausanne-Morges Agglomeration as Living Lab

The HRC has selected the Lausanne-Morges agglomeration as living lab for the implementation of this grant: a main territory and case-study on which all proposals are invited to focus. Within this spatial framework and network of actors, applicants are invited to build research consortia including:

  • Two Principal Investigators (PIs), with minimum one Principal Investigator (PI 1) affiliated to an ENAC Laboratory. The second Principal investigator (PI 2) can be affiliated to an ENAC or EPFL Laboratory. The PIs should be early-career researchers, i.e. PhD or Post doc or scientific collaborator. The two PIs must be experts in two different disciplines and address with their project idea a transdisciplinary research field(s).
  • Minimum one non-academic partner. The non-academic partner(s) can be from the private or public sector, governmental or non-governmental (a cantonal and (inter)communal offices, consulting firm, citizen associations and actors of the cultural world, etc.). The non-academic partner(s) must be active in the Lausanne-Morges agglomeration and its activity must be relevant for the project idea, in relation to the topic and theme of the call.

Hidden Rivers as social, spatial and ecological continuities within the urban and natural environments

In order to address the topic of urbanization in the socio-ecological and spatial transition, HRC propose a general theme for the Living lab grants: Hidden Rivers as social, spatial and ecological continuities within the urban and natural environments.

This theme aims at exploring the presence/absence of rivers in the Lausanne-Morges agglomeration as natural ecosystems, cultural landscapes and hydraulic infrastructures within the city. Historically, rivers served as a vital resource and as one of the most important links between inhabitants and the natural environment. Nevertheless, due to the push towards industrialization and urbanization across territories, these rivers have become largely channelized and buried, within increasingly fragmented surrounding spaces.

The HRC Living Lab Grants wishes to (re)open research and design perspectives regarding the presence/absence of hidden rivers and the role they can play in the future sustainable redevelopment of Lausanne-Morges agglomeration. This call for proposals is an opportunity to rethink the relationship between the city, the valleys and its waterbodies. The question of the continuity within the urban and natural environments shall be addressed as a social, spatial and ecological project.

The various aspects of this challenge relate to risk management, to mitigative and adaptive climate change strategies; and to the demographic, social and economic evolution of inhabited and productive spaces. Applicants are entirely free to propose an original project idea in relation to the general theme of “Hidden Rivers” and to the challenges of urbanization in transition. However, HRC suggests three non-exhaustive and interrelated sub-themes that can inspire and guide applicants in developing their project idea:

  • Renaturation, demineralization, water/soil quality, management of contamination, flood water management, support for biodiversity
  • Health, soft and active mobility, heat island mitigation, inclusion of vulnerable people
  • Urban metabolism, water as a resource, urban agriculture


Please check the eligibility requirements and evaluation criteria for this call in the Guide for Applicants (see Applicant toolkit).





  • Opening of the call : June 9th, 2021
  • Deadline for submission: September 1st, 2021
  • Start date : October 2021 at the earliest, December 2021 at the latest

How to submit

  • Please read the Guide for Applicants and use the provided templates (see toolkit).


For any questions, please contact the HRC coordination
[email protected].