NEST: Interaction with the User

Gramazio Kohler

Architects: Gramazio Kohler
Location: Dübendorf, Switzerland
Area: 4.935 m2
Year: 2016

The reduction of the environmental footprint of buildings is one of the major challenges the construction industry is facing. Intensive research is being carried out in academia and industry addressing all levels from materials to building systems and operations. Special emphasis has to be given to the issue of technology transfer, as the construction sector is known for the slow uptake of inventions. Furthermore, the interaction of the user with the newly developed solutions is generally omitted during the research phase but plays a key role for the acceptance in the market.

NEST addresses all these issues in a holistic approach:
NEST is a dynamic, modular research and demonstration platform for advanced and innovative building technologies in the heart of the Empa/Eawag campus. Used as an academic guest house and experimental office space, it will serve as a “living lab for sustainable construction” that allows novel materials, components and innovative systems to be developed, demonstrated and optimized under real-world conditions.

NEST consists of a central “backbone”, for the load-bearing structure and for access to services and media, and a basic grid for the accommodation of about 50 exchangeable living and office units. Due to its highly flexible design, which allows for the exchange of complete living/working units or even entire floors in a «plug-and-play» mode, NEST will constantly change and tackle the hot topics of the time.

NEST will be used for competitive international calls to attract the brightest ideas and most advanced experimental concepts from universities, research centers and industry. The aim is to boost international collaboration and invention in the construction sector. Emerging issues will be evaluated in close collaboration with the construction industry, and calls will be launched for each research topic under investigation to select the most cutting-edge projects from both academia and industry on an international level. Each of these “incarnations” of NEST will go along with a series of conferences, seminars, exhibitions, continuing education courses and lectures.

As a collective research project of the ETH Domain, NEST is supported by Empa, Eawag, ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne. The partner institutions form an interdisciplinary network with research groups from materials science, engineering, architecture and the social sciences. The platform will also be open to partners from industry to support the development of novel technologies and systems.