NEST HiLo - ultra lightweight and super integrated

NEST is a flagship project of Empa and Eawag, in collaboration with the ETH Domain – is a dynamic, modular research and demonstration platform for advanced and innovative building technologies in the heart of the Empa-Eawag campus in Dübendorf, Switzerland, due to be completed in 2015. As a “future living and working lab”, NEST consists of a central backbone and a basic grid to accommodate exchangeable living and office modules, allowing novel materials and components and innovative systems to be tested, demonstrated and optimized under real-world conditions. 

Two research groups of the Institute of Technology in Architecture, ETH Zurich, are responsible for the project; the Assistant Professorship of Building Structure (BLOCK Research Group / BRG) and the Assistant Professorship of Architecture and Sustainable Building Technologies (SuAT). The two teams develop their ideas with foreign partners, with Supermanoeuvre from Sydney and Zwarts & Jansma Architects (ZJA) from Amsterdam.

  • HiLo is a two-story penthouse for living and working for academic guests. The construction of the roof and the mezzanine floor is based on a completely novel design:
  • A vaulted, ultra-slim roof shell based on a geometrically optimised doubly curved form that integrates solar gains, thermal insulation, and conditioning of the indoor space.
  • A new flexible formwork construction based on a tensioned cable net and textile has been specifically developed that allows forming of the large concrete shell with only a few centimetres of thickness.
  • Hollow, unreinforced vaulted concrete slabs from precast concrete cassettes, allowing up to 70% weight reduction.
  • Flexible solar modules that are tracking the sun and generating electricity whilst they are used as shading devices or are opened for daylight.
  • The penthouse is designed as energy-plus building and should be completed according to plan in the summer of 2015.


HiLo Blog Site
EMPA NEST Homepage
DETAIL Online Article on HiLo