Second tenant moved in

At home in NEST

Feb 27, 2017 | RAMONA RONNER
Two students are now living in the NEST unit Vision Wood. Communications intern Ramona Ronner visited Patryk Spera and David Norris in their very unusual flat, and talked to them about their life in a research environment.

The Vision Wood accommodation unit feels immediately welcoming when you enter. There is joking and laughter as the two residents bustle about in the open-plan kitchen. There is a relaxed atmosphere. It certainly doesn't feel like a work meeting. It feels like you're a guest visiting friends in a completely normal shared flat. And this appears to be how the two residents feel about it as well. If it was not for one small difference... the flat is located in a futuristic-like building in the heart of the Empa campus in Dübendorf. This is NEST, the laboratory building for research into the construction, residences, and lifestyle of tomorrow.

Patryk Spera (25), the first resident of Vision Wood, was joined by David Norris (22) in late January. Since then, they have both been part of the research project. They have, in fact, become research subjects themselves. "It does not bother us at all. We do not feel disturbed in terms of our privacy. The regular groups of visitors come when we are working anyway," says David, before adding, "I'd actually like it if I were to meet them as well." For both of them, being part of such a residential project was a crucial reason for applying. "After all, not everyone can say at home that they have not just conducted research, but have also been the subject of a research project," says David with a smile.

In Vision Wood, the doors are made of fire-resistant wood, the wooden door handles are antibacterial, and even the magnetic noticeboard and the washbasin in one of the rooms are made of wood. Patryk in particular, who works with wood research himself, is very impressed. When talking to the two residents, you quickly notice how their eyes start to sparkle when they speak about their flat. They are, for example, enthusiastic about the fact that they can decide for themselves what temperature it should be when they get up in the morning.

Quiet in the NEST

The flat is located just a few metres from their workplace. But it does not feel as if they are constantly at work. "When one feels so comfortable, it is really like being at home. At the weekend it is admittedly sometimes a bit strange, because you come back to the rather quiet research campus. Apart from the occasional security guard, you hardly meet anyone," says Patryk. But they have got used to that.

"It is also incredibly quiet in the building and on the premises during the night. That took a bit of getting used to at first," says David. But neither of them feel that it is strange, in fact  Patryk and David both agree and think it is actually nice and "somehow cool". The soundproofing is generally good in Vision Wood. David, who plays the violin in an orchestra, often rehearses in his room. But Patryk says: "I can barely hear it. Sometimes I don't even know if he's at home at all, because I cannot hear him as soon as his bedroom door is closed." If the doors are open, they enjoy spending time with each other. They cook together at lunch time or in the evening, and watch TV or talk. They both say that they would love to live in such a modern flat in the future. But until that time comes, they are enjoying life in NEST. As David also comments: "We should make the most of our time here, as it is such a special environment."

They make the most of their leisure time as well. While David continues to quite frequently make the Davos ski slopes unsafe, along with his family, Patryk pulls on his hiking boots and explores the mountains on foot.

Changes in NEST

"Time really flies when you're here. Not least when there is a lot of work to do," says Patryk. He is a Master's student in the field of material sciences, and is working as a trainee at Empa. David is also here as a trainee for a year. The Scot is currently studying on the chemical engineering Master's programme. Patryk has already completed his degree thesis and is coming to the end of his period as a trainee. He will move out of Vision Wood in March. David will then get a new flatmate from Patryk's research department, as he will remain there until September: "I am already looking forward to the summer when I can enjoy the roof terrace." The Solar Fitness & Wellness Unit will also have been completed by the late summer, which also appeals to him: "I will definitely be making use of it."

After a delicious lunch and a relaxed, cordial conversation, I say goodbye to the two of them: everybody has to get back to work, and as they return to their lab, I head for my office. On the way back, I realise that Vision Wood is much more than just a research project, it has also become a home for two young people.

Vision Wood appartment
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