Opening of the NEST “SolAce” unit
A facade that is a power plant and a guarantee of wellbeing
The blue-green facade of the “SolAce” unit at NEST shimmers like a butterfly’s wing in the sunlight. The latest addition to Empa and Eawag’s research and innovation building in Dübendorf was officially opened on 24 September 2018. The unit combines workspace and living space over almost 100 square meters and is integrated in NEST’s south-facing side between the second and third platform of the typecase-like structure.
“Through its facade, “SolAce” is to harvest more energy than the unit needs over the course of the year, while at the same time providing the best possible comfort to the users”. That’s how Jean-Louis Scartezzini explains the objective of the project. The EPFL researcher is the Director of the Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory, and the idea for the latest NEST unit is his brainchild. To achieve this goal, the researchers combine several active and passive facade elements that feature technologies developed at the Lausanne-based lab. Some of those technologies are about to be commercialized by start-ups and collaborations with partners from industry, while others still have a way to go. “NEST gives us the unique opportunity to examine the various technologies in interaction with each other and in a real-life environment”, says Scartezzini.
Electricity and hot water
How to monitor wellbeing?
Proving everyday use
As is customary for NEST, the “SolAce” unit will be used and lived in on a real-life basis. During the first phase, it is primarily EPFL researchers who will use the rooms and monitor the systems and technologies and adjust them to ambient conditions. “Once this is done we will use the unit for our guests to work and to live in”, says NEST Innovation Manager Rico Marchesi. He is delighted about the new addition to the research and innovation building and is convinced that “SolAce” can make a valuable contribution to the future design of building envelopes. “Thanks to the color glazing shown here, aesthetic concerns about the use of photovoltaic modules on the facade are clearly no longer valid”, he is convinced.
For Jean-Louis Scartezzini, the project is already a great success: “Again and again, the close cooperation between researchers and partners from industry, but also amongst the industry partners themselves, led to surprising ideas and a valuable exchange of knowledge.” The architect of the unit, Fabrice Macherel from Lutz Architects in Fribourg, also found the collaboration between the realms of research and business to be hugely enriching: “Striking the balance between theory and practice was not always easy, but we learned a lot of new things and we can use this knowledge in future projects.” To put it more briefly: technology transfer in its purest form.
NEST – Exploring the future of buildings
Press photos can be found here: https://nest.empa.ch/downloads
Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Dübendorf
Concept, design and general planning:
Lutz Architects, Givisiez
Planning HVAC and electrical systems:
az ingénieurs, Bulle
Planning measuring and control systems:
Amstein-Walthert AG, Zürich
NBG Ingenieure AG, Bern; JOMOS Feuerschutz AG, Balsthal
Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory, EPFL