ETH Zurich Design Studios

16HS_Living Lab Zakynthos_Poster
Fall Semester 2016
Living Lab Zakynthos

We are designing a future-oriented, sustainable accommodation complex on the rural west coast of Greece. The ambition of the project, in conjunction with the Living Lab Hotel group, is to test how our future lives could be led in a world without consumption and destruction of natural resources. It is expected that the outcome of the studio will be realized by the client.

We develop the project based on your own definition of sustainability. The availability of resources, craftsmanship and talents as well as the climatic, ecological and economic conditions shall be integrated into the design of an innovative architectural project. The issue of contemporary tourism and its accompanying economic model will influence and inform your spatial concept. The scheme should consist of several pavilions, a lobby, administration building, educational facilities, as well as an infrastructural system for deliveries, supplies and sustainable disposal. You will be expected to work across a variety of scales, resolving individual buildings details as well as masterplanning.

We strongly recommend the seminar week “Venice – Reports from the Front” to all interested students offered together with the chair of Philippe Block. The chair offers the integrated discipline Construction within the course. Additionally, the integrated disciplines Architecture and Building Systems is offered under chair of Arno Schlüter. The course Life Cycle Assessment is also offered in collaboration with Roland Hischier (EMPA).


Spring Semester 2016
Ressource Stadt – Building for Disassembly

We are planning 140 new apartments together with the Gemeinnützigen Bau- und Mietergenossenschaft Zürich (GBMZ) in District 4 in Zurich. We design our buildings according to the principle of „building for disassembly“ in order to allow not only their construction but also the complete dismantling and hence the genuine reusability of all materials.

In close collaboration with Werner Sobek and the Institut für Leichtbau Entwerfen und Konstruieren (ILEK) at the Technical University of Stuttgart, we will develop an architectural and constructional approach ranging from urban issues to the formulation of innovative jointing techniques in full scale. The architectural design should be a relevant contribution to a future-oriented building culture in Europe, which adresses the social and resource-related situation of our generation. The semester task represents a real construction project, which will be implemented by the GBMZ in the coming years. The cooperative will accompany the semester.

We strongly recommend the seminar week “Zukunft des Bauens” (future of construction) to all interested students.


Bildschirmfoto 2015-06-29 um 15.22.37
Fall Semester 2015
Cambodia: Village School Project

We are planning a school in rural Cambodia within an existing village structure about two hours north of the capital Phnom Penh. The school consists of several classrooms, a cafeteria, an auditorium as well as medical and infrastructural buildings.

In addition to these specific social conditions, the availability of material resources, talent and technical skills as well as the climatic, ecological and economic conditions have to be considered in the design. The question of contemporary didactical concepts and their spatial implementation is an important issue in the semester. Together with local professionals we will develop a reasonable and customized strategy how the school system and the necessary infrastructure can be implemented in several phases. The client considers the realization of the project.

We also offer a seminar week on this subject to interested students. Participation is strongly recommended but not mandatory.



Spring Semester 2015

Resource Schweiz / Architektur 1:1

Whereas the architectural typology of a vacation home mainly demands relations to the attractive and spectacular surrounding landscape, the atelier focuses inwards. The “genius loci” cannot be found in the surroundings, but in the architectural form, in functional standards, architectural finishing in materiality and in the atmosphere out of it, in principles of construction and in solutions of details. However, both types of construction – vacation home and atelier – are of moderate dimension. In discussions with craftsmen this dimension is to be defined; knowledge and skills are not only instruments for construction, but should define the design strategy in order to find an unique identity.

The course applies the same principles as currently used in the Design Semester in Ethiopia, investigating similarities and discrepancies in two extremely contrary places.



Fall Semester 2014

5000 Housing Units for Addis Ababa

Urbanization is generally seen as a positive factor in poverty reduction, however it requires careful urban planning strategies and innovative housing designs, which capitalize on local resources and practices. Efforts to do so have largely failed in the fast growing cities of Africa. Rather than enhancing the value of existing local resources and practices by combining them with innovative approaches and mechanisms for planning, governments prefer to import foreign typologies in a formal top-down process. Here, unfortunately, Ethiopia is no exception. Besides its strong efforts concerning future urban development, Ethiopia is missing a strong national urban housing strategy to address the incredible housing shortage together with the overwhelming poverty rate of its inhabitants.

The Grand Housing Development Program forced hundred thousands of people out of their original neighbourhoods, cutting all ties to their social networks. Kids had to leave their schools, and parents lost their local market to sell small, hand-made products. The new shelters, which they are allocated to, are far from the city centre, making it impossible for people to keep in contact. Finally recognizing this dilemma, the city administration recently commissioned the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development EiABC and the Chair of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel of ETH Zürich to design 5000 housing units in the inner parts of the city, where people can reside while their original neighbourhoods are demolished and replaced by new condominiums of the Grand Housing Development Program.