In the past two years, EPFL’s School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering ENAC launched a number of projects and joint initiatives, and significant progress was made on all of them in 2016. Last year also marked the appointment of a new EPFL president. It was, in many respects, a year of change.

ENAC continued to grow in 2016. Four new professors joined our staff, adding depth to our school’s expertise in materials structure, structural design, construction and architecture, and urban ecology. Work was also completed on the Habitat Research Center, which will take research on urban phenomena to a new level by adopting a cross-disciplinary approach.

ENAC’smart living lab – which represents one of EPFL’s satellite campuses, and is located in Fribourg – is a cutting-edge research and development center. It took a decisive step forward in 2016, with two new professors taking up their positions. It also held a highly successful open day that gave visitors a glimpse of its ambitions. We hope to receive the political support necessary to ensure the Lab’s continued growth.

It was in the Blue Hall, where the smart living lab is located, that work started last year on NeighborHub, the building that will be entered into the Solar Decathlon competition in Denver in October 2017. This extraordinary project took shape in 2016 through three workshops and various semester projects and project-oriented classes involving 119 students – including 72 from EPFL.

ENAC also took the opportunity to review the “Design & Build Together” teaching platform in 2016. The professors who run this program launched an initiative to encourage greater cross-fertilization of ideas among students. The goal is to ensure this important program remains relevant, high profile and dynamic over the coming years.

We took a new approach to ENAC’s Research Day in 2016 – and it made a lasting impression on our researchers. They were able to meet colleagues and learn more about other fields within ENAC; they could take a virtual walk through the school’s labs thanks to an Affinity Map in the form of a 15m by 15m rug; and they experienced an interactive exhibit. The researchers emerged with a fuller understanding of our school. This event also helped each of us realize that we are part of something bigger and can all contribute to ENAC’s diversity and depth.

In the area of research, the European Research Council Consolidator Grant received by Rizlan Bernier-Latmani reminds us of the broad range of studies conducted within ENAC and of our school’s impact on fundamental research at the international level.

ENAC was able to initiate and carry forward many projects in 2016 despite the distractions of a change in EPFL’s leadership and the renewed focus on our management processes, including at the financial level. We look forward to seeing you in 2017, and we will be sure to keep you up to date on our projects throughout the year.


Marilyne Andersen






Partnership with the IOC

The demolition of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) former office buildings gave rise to a unique partnership between EPFL and the IOC. As part of the Youth for Reuse workshop, organized by the EAST Laboratory, architecture students came up with ideas of how materials from the building could be reused. They then displayed their projects at Lausanne’s Architecture Forum. This led to the Cabanon Project, which was run by students from the EAST Lab together with art history students from the University of Lausanne. The architecture students used the recovered materials to build a temporary pavilion, which the second group of students then used.

Ground-breaking initiative with MSF

Faced with a cholera epidemic in Haiti, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) contacted researchers at EPFL’s Laboratory of Ecohydrology to find out if they could predict the number of new cholera cases in real time. The researchers were able to provide MSF with scenarios to supplement the information gathered in the field. It was the first time EPFL collaborated with MSF during an epidemic. The method, based on a mathematical model first developed at EPFL in 2010, can be applied in other regions affected by cholera. The results of this initiative will be included in official MSF reports and other publications.

Industrial window technology

Andreas Schüler’s team at the Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory developed two innovative projects that apply nanometric coatings to glass. The first project involved designing windows that improve mobile telephone reception on trains. Bern’s rail company, BLS, has already equipped some new trains with these windows. The second project consists of a window system to improve the use of natural light within buildings. The European Patent Office has protected this system, which means it can be safely transferred to industry.


The Petrosvibri chair seeks to integrate and combine state-of-art research capacities to understand the challenging geo-mechanical behavior of geological CO2 injection and storage. The chair is sponsored by Petrosvibri SA.

The Gaznat Chair on Geo-Energy combine experimental and theoretical research to improve the engineering of subterranean porous reservoir in a sustainable manner. The chair address a number of current geo-energy challenges associated with geothermal energy production, gas production and storage.

The Swiss Mobiliar Chair in Urban Ecology and Sustainable Living will draw on broad interdisciplinary expertise already present on campus, and develop new research avenues at the crossroads between architecture and design, civil engineering, social and environmental sciences.

The Chair “Innovations for a Sustainable Future” was created as the result of a convergence of values between EPFL and Landolt & Cie LTD, Swiss private bank, to contribute to building a sustainable world for future generations by educating future leaders and developing cross-disciplinary research activities.



Smart Living Lab

Located in Fribourg, Switzerland, the smart living lab is an interdisciplinary, inter-institutional excellence center for the built environment of the future. With its partners, the University of Fribourg and the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, it aims to further knowledge related to the built environment of the future, both on a technical and on a societal level.

Culture du Bâti Foundation

Through ENAC, EPFL is one of 17 founding members of the Fondation Culture du Bâti. The foundation aims to promote, highlight and develop all materials, heritage and content relating to the art of building, construction and landscape. It is a non-profit public-interest organization.

Active Interfaces

ENAC is represented with two labs in the Swiss national research project “Active Interfaces,” which aims to develop a holistic strategy to accelerate the transposition of advanced BIPV adapted solutions into real innovative practices.

NCCR Digital Fabrication

With the iBois laboratory, ENAC is involved in the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication, initiated at ETH Zurich. The center focuses on research into digital design and manufacturing processes and their synthesis through the use of novel technologies.

SCCER Future Energy Efficient Buildings & Districts

EPFL is involved in the Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research program “Future Energy Efficient Buildings & Districts,” whose aim is to reduce the end-energy demand of the Swiss building stock by a factor of five during the next decades thanks to efficient, intelligent and interlinked buildings.

The Future Cities Laboratory

ENAC is involved in the Future Cities Laboratory, a research programme established by ETH Zurich and Singapore’s National Research Foundation that aims to develop new knowledge, technologies, and approaches for a sustainable urban future with an Asian perspective.

SCCER Supply of Electricity

The EPFL takes part in the Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research program «Supply of Electricity» to carry out innovative and sustainable research in the areas of geo-energy and hydropower. The SCCER-SoE develops new technologies and optimizes existing infrastructures for energy production in the future.

Joint professorships

ENAC shares a number of its professors and researchers with the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG).