ETH Zurich Pavilion at the IDEAS CITY Festival in New York

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Commissioned by ETH Global, the Assistant Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel and the Professorship of Architecture and Structure Philippe Block will be building a pavilion at New York City’s First Street Garden as part of the New Museum’s IDEAS CITY festival, May 28 – 30th, 2015.

Using waste products as construction material, the structure aims to redefine our perception of refuse, acknowledging its capacity as a substance from which to construct new cities. Waste was seen for centuries as something specific which neither belonged to the family of natural resources nor to the one of finished products. Waste was a by-product, an (ideally) invisible part in the making and existing of our cities.

But waste could also be understood as an integral part of what we define as a resource. This metabolic thinking understands our built environment as an interim stage of material storage. The ETH Pavilion will be an example of this approach using a common waste product: beverage cartons as its construction material. The expressive pavilion is designed to allow the use of a non-standard, weak material in construction.To keep the stresses in the material low, the shape follows the flow of forces, resulting in a vaulted structure in compression. Thanks to its overall double curvature and the triangular sections of the arches, which give the structure a deeper section for the same thickness and weight, the shell is stable and safe.

Underneath and within this structure, ETH Global will curate a program following the theme of the pavilion. The exhibition ‘Building from Waste’ displays over 25 construction materials derived from waste, activating resources within our cities that have remained invisible until now. A covered area for about 30-40 people will provide space for invited guests from ETH Zurich and its partners to organize lectures and seminars for the general public. A bar will offer a variety of catering services throughout the duration of the festival.

Download detailed description of the ETH Zurich Pavilion (PDF, 4.5 MB).

Design workshop at SWISSNEX San Francisco

Can design reduce waste production? How can small adjustments in the typical life cycle of everyday products drastically minimize waste flow? The search for the answers to those and other refuse-related questions were the goals of this year’s ‘Constructing from Waste’ workshop in San Francisco led by Marta H. Wisniewska and Felix Heisel. Participants with different background and experience, including students, school teachers, architects and product designers, worked on eight different proposals. Andreas Müller of Birkhäuser, publisher of the Building from Waste book, awarded the best three proposals with recent publications.

The Constructing Waste: Upcycling and Rethinking Trash workshop was organized in cooperation with Mary Ellyn Johnson of swissnex SF in the frame of a one week long event at swissnex San Francisco promoting the Building from Waste book, which has just entered the US market.

For more information click here.

Photo credits: swissnex SF/ Mayleen Hollero

`Building from Waste` exhibition at SWISSNEX San Francisco

The exhibition Building from Waste: Material Showcase accompanied the Building from Waste book promotion week, which took place at swissnex San Francisco between April 20 – 25, 2015

The Asst. Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel brought the Building from Waste: Material Showcase to swissnex San Francisco, items of loan from the Baubibliothek of the Department of Architecture ETH Zurich. Visitors had a chance to experience over 20 alternative construction materials produced from waste. The exhibited materials cover a wide range of building elements made from straw or PET bottles, fibers extracted from old newspapers, juice and milk containers, denim jeans, and many more. Additionally the exhibition included an extended display of mycelium lightweight products in different moments of growth produced by local artist and inventor Phill Ross of Mycoworks.

For more information click here.

Photo credits: swissnex SF/ Mayleen Hollero

Waste Not: `Building from Waste` panel discussion at SWISSNEX San Francisco

Waste Not Panel Discussion at swissnex San Francisco on April 21, 2015 started a week-long event organized by Mary Ellyn Johnson and the swissnex SF team around the launch of the Building from Waste book for the US market.

Future resilient cities will be constructed out of their own refuse. This hypothesis was the spark for the book, Building from Waste: Recovered Materials in Architecture and Construction by Dirk E. Hebel, Marta H. Wisniewska and Felix Heisel from ETH Zurich and the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore.

Felix Heisel and Marta H. Wisniewska gave a conceptual and practical look at materials and products that use waste as a renewable resource during their presentation and panel discussion at swissnex San Francisco. From the local experts, Philip Ross (Mycoworks), Thom Foulders (Foulders Studio) and Peter Ratto (Recology), the guests could hear how mushrooms can be a viable building material, how experiments in architecture are incorporating unique products focused on sustainability and renewal, and how San Francisco’s Recology is working towards zero waste for the city by 2020.

For more information click here.

Photo credits: swissnex SF/ Mayleen Hollero

Spring semester 2015 seminar week on local building materials in Switzerland

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As part of the ongoing spring semester “Ressource Schweiz”, the Assistant Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel organised a seminar week touring Switzerland with 50 participants. Visiting architects and their buildings using local available building materials such as loam, wood, or stone, the group also went to the original resource sites in clay pits or quarries and visited companies and craftsmen working with the substances.

Photo by Marta H. Wisniewska

Waste not: Exploring Alternative Building Materials

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Marta H. Wisniewska and Felix Heisel will be leading several events from 21st – 25th of April at Swissnex San Fransisco in order to promote the recent publication “Building from Waste” in the United States. For detailed information on the events please see here and register your attendance through the swissnex website:

21.04.2015  – 6:30 pm: Lecture Series “Waste Not”
with Philip Ross, Thom Faulders, Marta H. Wisniewska and Felix Heisel

21.04. – 25.04.2015: “Building from Waste” Exhibit with 25 construction products made from refuse

25.04.2015 – 9:00 am: Constructing Waste: Upcycling and Rethinking Trash
Workshop with Marta H. Wisniewska and Felix Heisel

Engineering for Development (E4D) round table discussion

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Moderated by Dr. Barbara Becker and hosted by ETH Global on March 23rd 2015, Sarah Springman, Samih Sawiris and Dirk E. Hebel discussed the challenges and opportunities of Engineering for Development (E4D), a program of the Sawiris foundation and the ETH Zürich to promote the development of products and methods which are directly relevant for improving the livelihoods of people in developing territories.

The Bamboo Revival: Green Structures

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Article published at Sourceable: Bamboo is one of the world’s oldest structural materials and has been used in construction for centuries. Now new research could potentially bolster its continued resurgence and use as a material in green structures. Steel-reinforced concrete is the most common building material in the world. Developing countries use close to 90 per cent of the cement and 80 per cent of the steel consumed by the global construction sector. According to research by the chair of architecture and construction at Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) in the Singapore-ETH Centre, 70 per cent of damage in the built environment today is caused by corrosion of steel inside reinforced concrete structures. In addition, steel is also costly and energy hungry when it comes to production and transportation. Read more here.

Bamboo: The Green Reinforcement

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Doctoral Researcher Alireza Javadian of the Assistant Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel spoke on February 13th 2015 as part of the “Friday Talks” at the Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore (URA) on “Bamboo: The Green Reinforcement”. His talk introduced the audience to the research of new bamboo composite materials, featuring high tensile capacity with a variety of different application possibilities.

More on the Friday Talk Series can be found here.

Bambus statt Beton

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Bislang sind Häuser und Brücken aus Bambus Einzelfälle. Forscher von der ETH Zürich wollen jetzt aus dem Süßgrasgewächs einen ökologischen und günstigen Massenbaustoff für die Städte von morgen entwickeln. Ein Beitrag von Oliver Ristau im Technology Review Magazin für Innovation. (article in German only)

‘Future Cities: Research in Action’ exhibition opened at the URA Centre Singapore

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The ‘Future Cities: Research in Action’ exhibition opened on 23 Jan 2015 at the URA Centre atrium in Singapore It will run till 13 Mar 2015. Focused on cities, urbanisation, and global environmental sustainability, it presents research conducted by FCL towards the development of sustainable future cities. In this context, the Assistant Profesorship of Dirk E. Hebel (who also curated the show) exhibits their work on alternative future building materials. In general, the exhibition features the work of more than 120 FCL researchers from over 30 countries over the past four years. Integrating science, design and technology, they tackle urban challenges at multiple scales, from building materials and systems to neighbourhoods, districts, cities and their hinterlands. Click here for more information.

Fall Semester 2014 – 5.000 housing units for Addis Ababa

In the fall 2014, the design studio of the Assistant Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel focused on the development of 5.000 social housing units in Ethiopia`s capital Addis Ababa. The professorship partnered up with the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC), which was commissioned by the Addis Ababa City Administration with this task. Units for no- and low-income families, which are being displaced due to on-going redevelopment strategies, shall be constructed within the inner-city context based on the students’ design proposals. The typologies have to take the existing social and cultural conditions into consideration and, where possible, utilize local materials. Additionally, they need to remain within a given budget set by the city administration. Next to important urban questions adressing densities and the construction of neighborhoods, the studio concentrated on locally available construction methods and materials and aimed to develop architecture and construction strategies down to the scale of the detail.

Wundermaterial mit Langzeitfolgen

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270.000 tons of plastic waste particles are floating in our oceans. Asst. Prof. Dirk E. Hebel is writing on garbage swirls and plastic materials in the ETH Zukunftsblog (article in German only). Click here to read the article.

Ministry of Education (MOE) Singapore Innovation Fund Grant

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The Ministry of Education in Singapore has awarded  the Assistant Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel together with the Republic Polytechnic Singapore 320.000 Singapore Dollars within the framework of the “Translational R&D and Innovation Fund Grant” for the jointly submitted project: “Maximize bonding between Sustainable Bamboo Composite Reinforcement and Concrete”. The project is set for two years and lead by Dr. Leong Wen Shing in collaboration with the group of Prof. Hebel in Singapore. The award acknowledges the successful collaboration between the Republic Polytechnic and the Future Cities Laboratory which started in 2013.

Exhibition at the Republic Polytechnic Open House

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The bamboo composite research collaboration between the Assistant Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel in Singapore and the Republic Polytechnic Singapore (Dr Wen Shing) was highlighted again this year from Jan 8th to Jan 10th at the Republic Polytechnic Open House 2015 Event.