NEST Podcast: The Future of Construction
Episode 30: Giving buildings a soul – with Friederike Schmid, curator of "Art in Architecture" projects
February 23, 2023 – In the 30th episode, Peter Richner explores a niche of the construction industry that navigates far away from the conventional understanding of building: Art in Architecture – or as the guest of this episode likes to call it: Art and Architecture. He is welcoming Friederike Schmid. She is the managing director of Communication by Art GmbH, has been curating and managing art projects in construction with heart and soul for over twenty years, and is currently accompanying one at Empa. In the conversation, the two shed light on how this type of art differs from architectural and engineering art, in what form it addresses sustainability, and why art must take on the role of a court jester.
Episode 29: Putting the engineers in the spotlight – with Daniel Löhr, Co-initiator of the Engineers' Day
January 26, 2023 – In the 29th episode, Peter Richner focuses on a profession that largely operates in the background: engineers. The guest is Daniel Löhr, who has been putting his heart and soul into making engineers more visible for many years. Daniel Löhr is a management consultant and the initiator of the Engineers' Day. In their conversation, the two shed light on the great work that engineers do for our daily lives, why this professional group is so invisible despite these achievements, and how Daniel Löhr is trying to use the color blue to put the engineering profession in the spotlight.
Special episode: The long road to practical application - with Prof. Urs Meier, former Empa Director in Dübendorf
January 6, 2023 – It often takes a long time for new materials to find their way into construction practice. Someone who knows this particularly well is Prof. Urs Meier, long-time director of Empa at the Dübendorf site and a world-renowned pioneer in the use of carbon fiber-reinforced polymers in construction. In this special episode on the occasion of his 80th birthday, Peter Richner talks to him on how he came up with the idea of developing this innovative material 40 years ago and what hurdles and challenges had to be overcome before it was used in the first pilot projects. The two also talk about the enormous opportunities that carbon fiber-reinforced polymers offer for the construction sector and how we can use air to build bridges in the future.
Episode 27: Building with focus on people – with Joëlle Zimmerli, sociologist and social science planner
December 08, 2022 – Planners claim to design buildings in a user-oriented way, but the reality often looks different from a social science perspective – because the social context is often missing. Guest of the 27th episode of the NEST podcast is the sociologist and planner Joëlle Zimmerli. In 2011, she founded the planning and development office Zimraum, which identifies the requirements and demands that different users set for the development of areas, cities and regions. Peter Richner talks with her about the reasons why the term "use-neutral buildings" should be removed from the vocabulary, how well functioning neighborhoods can be fostered early on – and what role a Porsche for free can play in the in the sociological mix.
Episode 26: Against the power shortage – with Lukas Küng, Head of OSTRAL
November 17, 2022 – The 26th episode of the NEST Podcast focuses on a question that concerns a large part of the population at the beginning of winter 2022: How will Switzerland ensure that it has enough electricity to last through the cold season? Peter Richner seeks the answer to this question together with Lukas Küng. He is the managing director of Primeo Netz AG and head of the Organization for Electricity Supply in Extraordinary Situations, or OSTRAL for short. OSTRAL was commissioned by the federal government to implement countermeasures in the event of a prolonged power shortage. In this talk, the two discuss what a power shortage is, why the risk of such a situation in the winter of 2022/2023 is so high, what measures OSTRAL has developed to counteract it - and what the energy system must look like so that Switzerland can better overcome such crises in the future.
Episode 25: The real value of materials – with Marloes Fischer, Managing Director Madaster Switzerland
October 27, 2022 – In September 2022, the people of the Canton of Zurich voted in favor of the circular initiative, sending a clear signal that we can only achieve a sustainable future if we think and act in cycles. However, what does circular construction actually mean? What are the hurdles that still exist when it comes to this topic? Peter Richner explores these and other questions together with Marloes Fischer in the 25th episode of the NEST Podcast. Marloes has been running the material cadaster platform Madaster for over four years. In the conversation, Peter Richner and her shed light on how the circular economy in Switzerland has left its niche in recent years, how Madaster makes the value of materials more transparent and what important role the public sector must necessarily play in this topic. They also address the question of why the basis for circular construction lies in the digital world.
Episode 24: A smarter use of resources – with Fritz Mühlethaler, Member of the Executive Committee at Bouygues
September 29, 2022 – Rarely has building technology gained so much attention as in the current debate about the energy crisis. Bouygues Energies & Services is one of Switzerland's largest providers in the energy and services sector and experiences this change firsthand. In addition to energy-saving measures, Bouygues has also given a boost to the saving of resources in building technology - with the help of re-use. The guest of the 24th episode of the NEST podcast is Fritz Mühlethaler, Head of Services Building Technology Switzerland. Peter Richner talks to him about how skepticism about re-use at Bouygues turned into a sense of purpose, what positive side-effects the energy crisis brings with it and why it would be better for everyone if the building technicians were brought on board right at the start of the planning process.
Episode 23: Express delivery: CO2 neutrality – with Nadia von Veltheim, CEO Post Immobilien
August 25, 2022 – Post Immobilien, a group company of Swiss Post, is one of the largest real estate owners in Switzerland and manages a portfolio worth 4 billion Swiss francs. As such, it holds a tremendously important position in the overall Post Group, not only in terms of maintaining Swiss Post's service, but also in achieving the climate goals the company has set for itself. The guest of the 23rd episode of the NEST podcast is Nadia von Veltheim, CEO at Post Immobilien. Peter Richner talks to her about the company's sustainability strategies with which they keep their buildings up to date, how Swiss Post connects its buildings with its transport operations – and how they are preparing for the challenges of the upcoming winter.
Episode 22: Keeping the construction industry on the political agenda – with Hans Wicki, President of Bauenschweiz
June 21, 2022 – Almost half a million skilled workers are employed in the Swiss construction industry. Bauenschweiz, the umbrella organization of the Swiss construction industry, pools their interests and represents them vis-à-vis politicians and society. Since 2016, the president of Bauenschweiz has been Hans Wicki, a member of the Council of States for the canton of Nidwalden and former head of the building department and member of the cantonal government. In the 22nd episode of the NEST podcast, Peter Richner talks to Hans Wicki about our dependence on energy from abroad, about building permit procedures that don't want to end, about bans and democratic participation – and about the inhibitions to reach for one's own wallet when it comes to sustainable solutions.
Episode 21: Rethinking construction: From polluter to vacuum cleaner – Swissbau opening speech by Peter Richner
May 12, 2022 – At the opening ceremony of this year's Swissbau in Basel, Peter Richner held a speech on the future of the construction industry. He showed that the construction industry can and must make an enormously important contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. To do so, however, it is crucial that it takes a new direction and transforms itself from being a polluter to a vacuum cleaner. In this special episode of the NEST Podcast, which is a recording of Peter Richner's speech, you will learn how the construction industry can accomplish this. The presentation is also available on YouTube (in German).
Episode 20: Paving the way for sustainability – with SIA President Peter Dransfeld
March 30, 2022 – For almost a year now, the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects SIA has had a new president: Peter Dransfeld. He has been committed to sustainable solutions for decades: both as an architect – Peter Dransfeld is one of the pioneers of solar architecture – and as a politician and private person. In the 20th episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to Peter Dransfeld about the activities of the SIA for more sustainability in construction, about the need for the building industry to catch up – and about violating and overestimating standards.
Episode 19: A swarm of drones that protects buildings – with aerial robotics expert Mirko Kovac
February 24, 2022 – Today, people mostly use drones to take beautiful aerial photos. However, they offer much more potential - especially in the construction sector. In the 19th episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to Mirko Kovac about this potential. Mirko has been fascinated by robots and drones since he was a child. Today, he is head of the "Materials and Technology Center of Robotics" at Empa and director of the "Aerial Robotics Laboratory" at Imperial College in London. In this role, he researches and develops flying robots. The two talk about how in the future not only individual drones but an entire ecosystem - in other words, a swarm of drones - will be used to maintain, analyze and, if necessary, repair buildings. This will massively reduce the need for materials and the risk of accidents, while at the same time expanding the scope for action. In addition, the conversation also focuses on Mirko's vision of robots living together with humans as artificial living beings in the future.
Episode 18: Building on data - with digital expert and architect Birgitta Schock
January 27, 2022 – Digitization is the buzzword of the moment and has found its way into numerous industries - including the construction sector. However, what does digitalization actually mean for the construction sector? Birgitta Schock deals with this question. She is president of the SIA's council of experts for Digital Transformation and identifies the driving topics of digitalization for the construction and real estate industries - and she is the guest on the eighteenth episode of the NEST podcast. As an architect, she is also familiar with the challenges and hurdles in architecture and construction. The conversation between Peter Richner and Birgitta Schock focuses on "digitization blockers", the added value of data and why we are only beginning to exploit it, and the accelerants that are driving digital transformation.
Special episode: A glimpse behind the scenes of NEST – with Reto Largo, Managing Director of NEST
Episode 16: The future of concrete – with Holcim innovation strategist Simon Wiedemann
November 29, 2021 – Concrete is the most criticized building material, but also the most used. Simon Wiedemann, the guest of the 16th episode of the NEST podcast, operates in this area of tension. He has been working for Holcim for around 20 years and, in his current role as Head Solutions & Products, is responsible for shaping Holcim's global product portfolio in an innovative and sustainable way. In the conversation between Peter Richner and Simon Wiedemann, they talk about different ways of reducing the carbon footprint of concrete, the demand for more ideas from research – and how pilot projects can help to take off.
Episode 15: Blueprint for innovative building - with architect Silvan Oesterle
October 29, 2021 – In innovative building projects, the role of architects is central and enormously challenging - because they are the ones who pull all the strings. In the fifteenth episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to someone who knows this role inside out: Silvan Oesterle. He is co-founder of the architecture firm ROK, works as a lecturer at the Accademia di architettura di Mendrisio, and is the lead architect in the latest NEST unit STEP2 - which focuses on the marketability of innovations.
In their conversation, the two shed light on how architects can successfully integrate innovations into building projects, why they should no longer see themselves only as software users but also as software developers, and why architecture is "people business".
Episode 14: The aesthetics of PV modules – with designer Lynn Balli
September 22, 2021 – In February 2021, the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, together with Empa, organized a design competition. The aim was to create PV modules as design objects. The designs were presented to the public and a jury. The winning project, named "Glasklar", now adorns the façade above the main entrance of the NEST building. In the latest episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to the textile design student whose design convinced the jury: Lynn Balli. In the conversation, the two shed light on how design can make renewable energies more attractive and promote them. In addition, Lynn Balli talks about the challenges she encountered in designing the material, which was rather unusual for her, and how she managed to breathe life into glass.
Episode 13: About life cycles in construction — with Professor Catherine De Wolf
Episode 12: CO2 law, what's next? — with Gian-Luca Lardi, president of the Master Builder's Association
June 25, 2021 – According to the Swiss Association of Master Builders, modern construction is the most important lever for climate protection because the Swiss building stock is responsible for 45 percent of energy consumption and 24 percent of CO2 emissions. The construction industry can therefore make an important contribution to energy efficiency and the reduction of CO2 emissions. In the twelfth episode of the NEST podcast, Peter Richner talks to Gian-Luca Lardi, President of the Swiss Association of Master Builders, about the CO2 law that was rejected by the Swiss voters, about why replacement buildings need equal rights to energy-efficient renovations, and what the "zero-risk devil" is all about.
Episode 11: The foundation for the next generation – with ETH Rector Sarah Springman
May 27, 2021 – To keep the construction sector moving forward, the foundation laid by colleges and universities is crucial. They must respond to current trends and anticipate future developments in order to equip graduates with the necessary tools for their future careers. In the eleventh episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner welcomes ETH Rector Sarah Springman. The two talk about the major challenges of the pandemic for universities, the importance of getting students excited about technical courses at an early age - and the surgeons of the underground.
Episode 10: Building with the big picture in mind – with architect and engineer Werner Sobek
April 27, 2021 – Calling a spade a spade: That's the first step towards constructive problem solving – even when it comes to the sustainable use of resources and the resulting emissions in construction. In the tenth episode of the NEST podcast, Peter Richner welcomes architect Werner Sobek, a pioneer in sustainable building culture and a man of clear words. Together, the two take a look at the construction industry and beyond, pleading for honesty and transparency in thinking, speaking and acting – and defusing linguistic smoke petards in the process.
Episode 9: Wastewater as a resource – with environmental engineer Tove Larsen
March 25, 2021 – Turn old into new: Not only used materials can be recycled, but resources can also be recovered from wastewater. In the ninth episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks with Tove Larsen, environmental engineer and member of Eawag's board of directors, about the impact of innovations in water supply and wastewater management. They speak about what valuable things we flush down the toilet, why problems should be solved directly at the source, and why wastewater does not lie.
Episode 8: The virtuoso interaction of the different spheres of the National Councilor, researcher and entrepreneur Bastien Girod
March 1, 2021 – In order to achieve the change towards a climate-friendly society, it is important that research, business and politics work closely together. In the eighth episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to someone who has been working for climate protection and sustainability in all three spheres for years: Bastien Girod. The two talk about the challenges for a researcher in politics, about the opportunities that arise when you master the keyboard of the different spheres – and about the danger that comes from sorcerer's apprentices.
Episode 7: From dismantling to re-use with Kerstin Müller – a "hunter" for building components
January 29, 2021 – Reusing building materials and entire building components is one possible approach to circular and resource-efficient construction. The architect Kerstin Müller of Baubüro in situ has been advocating this for years, has implemented several lighthouse projects, and is thus familiar with the challenges of re-use. In the 7th episode of our NEST podcast, Peter Richner talks to Kerstin Müller about the hunt for used materials, restrictive standards and laws – and about a dating platform for building components.
Episode 6 with CEO Christian Buhl
December 17, 2020 – Christian Buhl is CEO of the Geberit AG. The globally operating Swiss company is the European market leader for sanitary products. As a graduate physicist and economist, Christian Buhl knows both the research and the industry side. He began his career at Geberit AG in 2009, initially responsible for "Strategic Planning". Since 2015, Christian Buhl has been managing the business of the entire Geberit Group as CEO. In the sixth episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to Christian Buhl about the relevance of innovation in the sanitary sector, the gradually increasing importance of "net zero emissions" for investors, developing countries in the sanitary sector - and black swans in the construction industry.
Episode 5 with business leader Karin Lenzlinger
November 18, 2020 – Karin Lenzlinger managed the family business Lenzlinger Söhne AG for decades until 2019. Located in the Zurich Oberland region, the SME is active in the finishing trade business. Today, Karin Lenzlinger is president of the Zurich Chamber of Commerce and holds several board of directors and executive board mandates in a wide range of industries. In the fifth episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to Karin Lenzlinger about the tension between tradition and innovation in an SME, about the "protected" construction industry - and about the pricking of growing plants.
Episode 4 with architecture professor Fabio Gramazio
October 06, 2020 – Fabio Gramazio is Professor of Architecture and Digital Fabrication at ETH Zurich and is one of the international pioneers of digital construction. Together with his partner Matthias Kohler, he was responsible for the architectural concept of NEST and was also significantly involved in the realization of DFAB HOUSE. In the fourth episode of the NEST podcast, Peter Richner talks to Fabio Gramazio about the resinous path towards a digital building culture, about the dangers of a revolution and the patience required for evolution – and about the complexity of trees.
Episode 3 with TEC 21 Editor-in-Chief Judit Solt
August 20, 2020 – Judit Solt is Editor-in-Chief of TEC21, the leading technical and scientific construction journal in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. As a graduate architect, she also works as a freelance architectural critic, writes articles for newspapers and books and is involved in competition juries and expert commissions. In addition, she is a board member of the "Haus der Farbe" school of design. In the third episode of the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner talks to Judit Solt about the important role of architects in the planning and realisation of buildings, about the difficult relationship of engineers to art - and about criticism of architectural critique.
Episode 2 with Council of States member Damian Müller
July 16, 2020 – Damian Müller (FDP) has been representing the Canton of Lucerne in the Council of States since 2015 and is a member of the Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy Committees ESPEC. In his function, Müller played a key role in the total revision of the CO2 Act. The law has now been discussed by both the Council of States and the National Council and is expected to pass in the autumn session of 2020. In this second episode of the NEST podcast, Peter Richner talks to Damian Müller about the coupling of buildings and mobility for CO2 reduction, about the demands of politics towards research - and about underground cities.
Episode 1 with SIA president Stefan Cadosch
June 8, 2020 – Stefan Cadosch is president of the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects SIA and owner of an architectural office. The SIA has over 16'000 members and represents the interests of architects and engineers in politics and society. The SIA is also known for its important body of standards. It develops, maintains and publishes numerous standards, regulations, guidelines, recommendations and documentation that are of vital importance for the Swiss construction industry. In the first episode of NEST Podcasts, Peter Richner talks to Stefan Cadosch about the tension between standardization and innovation, about hypes in architecture – and about expensive violins.