SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

 número102El riesgo de no especularLa trienal ha muerto, ¿larga vida a la bienal? La exposición como espejo y especulación índice de autoresíndice de materiabúsqueda de artículos
Home Pagelista alfabética de revistas  

Servicios Personalizados




Links relacionados

  • En proceso de indezaciónCitado por Google
  • No hay articulos similaresSimilares en SciELO
  • En proceso de indezaciónSimilares en Google


ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.102 Santiago ago. 2019 

Works & projects

NEST. Research building and guesthouse for Empa

Gramazio Kohler1  * 

1 Gramazio Kohler Architects, Dübendorf, Suiza.


Combining material experiments and academic research, a center for the development of innovative technologies is the ideal platform for architectural speculation. Furthermore, this building shows how architecture, conceived as infrastructure, can provide the conditions that bring together industry and academia into a single space for speculation.

Keywords: speculation; building; processes; sustainability; project

Source: © Roman Keller

Figure 1 

Source: © Roman Keller

Figure 2 

The reduction of the environmental footprint of buildings is one of the major challenges the construction industry is facing. Intensive research is carried out in academia and industry addressing all levels from materials to systems and operation of buildings. 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.

Figure 3 Site plan 

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, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, and Aquatic research, respectively. Used as an academic guesthouse 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 face and tackle the hot topics of the time.

Figure 4 First level plan 

Source: © Roman Keller

Figure 5 

Source: © Roman Keller

Figure 6 

Figure 7 Second and third level plans. 

Figure 8 Fourth and roof terrace level plans 

Figure 9 North elevation 

Figure 10 West elevation 

Figure 11 Section AA 

Figure 12 Section BB 

NEST will be used for competitive international calls, allowing thus 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 building sector. Emerging issues will be evaluated in close collaboration with the building 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 social sciences. The platform will also be open to partners from industry to support development of novel technologies and systems.

Source: © Digital Building Technologies (DBT), ETH Zürich / Tom Mundy

Figure 13 Smart slab installation 

Source: © Digital Building Technologies (DBT), ETH Zürich / Tom Mundy

Figure 14 Smart slab installation 


Architects: Gramazio Kohler Architects, Zurich

Collaborators: Philipp Hübner, Claudia Kuhn, Sarah Schneider, Julian Gatterer, Matthias Helmreich, Kathrin Hiebler, Marco Jacomella, Panagiota Michailidou, Jürgen Pauger, Marion Ott, Sebastian Pajakowski, Poltak Pandjaitan, Henning Proske, Christian Schwarzwimmer, Miriam Zehnder, Basile Diem

Location: Überlandstrasse 129 8600, Dübendorf, Switzerland

Client: Empa Materials Science & Technology, Dübendorf

Materials: Reinforced concrete

Budget: US$ 3500/m2

Built area: 4935 m2

Site area: 5795 m2

Project year: 2010 - 2014

Construction year: 2014 - 2016


Gramazio Kohler Architects Based in Zurich, the office combines the physis of built architecture with digital logics. They conceive spatial relationships and behaviors through programming, using the potentials of the computer and of digital fabrication complementary to traditional design, construction and building methods.

Creative Commons License Este es un artículo publicado en acceso abierto bajo una licencia Creative Commons