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ETH Zurich opens the building of the future

Researchers at ETH Zurich worked for six years on the Arch_Tec_Lab. The laboratory with real-world conditions is now open and demonstrates how digitisation can contribute to resource-efficient, emissions-free and compact construction.
Arch_Tec_Lab in Zurich. (Andrea Diglas / ITA/Arch-Tec-Lab AG)
Arch_Tec_Lab in Zurich. (Andrea Diglas / ITA/Arch-Tec-Lab AG)

Six professors from the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich pooled their research approaches to build the Arch_Tec-Lab. This ‘building of the future’ is located on the roof of an existing car park on the Hönggerberrg campus and embodies sustainability at ever possible level.

When designing the building, the researchers focused on digital technologies and a resource-efficient construction, according to an ETH Zurich statement. For instance, in comparison to conventional high-rise buildings, which have up to 400 kilograms of material per cubic metre, the average built-up volume of the Arch_Tec_Lab is only 240 kilograms. The curved timber roof of the building was prefabricated by a single gantry robot using an integrated digital planning and production process, which was developed by the researchers together with the company ERNE.

The new building is designed to be environmentally friendly even after occupants move into it by using zero-emissions technology developed at ETH Zurich. Ventilation units known as airboxes were installed in the double floor to ensure proper ventilation of the building and helping to cool and heat it. The double floor also draws air into the rooms by creating a slight positive pressure above floor vents

A robotic laboratory is located on the ground floor with a ceiling-mounted gantry system that allows for large-scale implementation of construction projects by means of four cooperating industrial robots. And so while many construction research questions were answered during construction of the building, many have been intentionally left unanswered: the Arch_Tec_Lab sees itself as a laboratory with real-world conditions where new solutions will be constantly tested on site.

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