HiLo Research & innovation unit for NEST

The HiLo unit of the Next Evolution Sustainable Building Technologies (NEST) platform in Dübendorf, Switzerland, demonstrates the potential of digital concrete construction to lower embodied emissions and energy in the structure of buildings, reduce construction waste and minimize resource consumption. It also shows how the integration of advanced building systems in lightweight structures allows for energy efficient operation and high user comfort. HiLo stands for High Performance and/with Low Emissions. The unit is designed as a two-storey collaborative and flexible workspace with two closed offices and multiple shared, open office areas.

HiLo’s key innovations include: (1) a doubly curved, two-layered concrete shell, (2) a flexible formwork with on-site active control, (3) a rib-stiffened funicular floor system, (4) the integration of Ventilation, Heating and Cooling, (5) an adaptive solar façade, and (6) intelligent and learning-based operation.

HiLo Innovation Highlights
In HiLo, the BRG shows three innovations in digital concrete construction that set new benchmarks for lowering embodied emissions, reducing construction waste and minimising resource consumption.
Doubly curved, two-layered concrete shell
HiLo’s roof is a doubly curved “sandwich” shell, containing a layer of insulation blocks between two sheets of reinforced concrete of only 5 and 3 cm thick. The concrete layers are connected by thin compressive stiffening ribs and vertical tension rods to activate the entire depth of the section.
Lightweight cable-net and fabric formwork system
Non-standard structures in concrete require complex, custom formworks that are costly and wasteful. The HiLo roof structure was, therefore, built using a flexible formwork, consisting of a tensioned cable-net covered with a thin fabric membrane onto which concrete was sprayed in multiple layers.
Rib-stiffened funicular floor system
A lightweight structural floor system that significantly reduces environmental impact and embodied carbon emissions both by minimising material needs and by using a large percentage of recycled construction waste, thus additionally contributing to a circular economy in construction.
Main credits
Innovation
Block Research Group, ETH Zurich
Architecture and Building Systems Group, ETH Zurich
Architecture
ROK Architects
Block Research Group, ETH Zurich
Selected Planners and Contractors
Buergin Creations
Dr. Schwartz Consulting AG
Marti AG
Pletscher Metallbau AG
Künzli Holz AG
Kaufmann Spenglerei & Sanitär AG
Holcim Schweiz
Mitsubishi Electric
Financial support
ETH Zurich
Dr. Max Rössler / ETH Foundation
Empa
NCCR Digital Fabrication
Holcim Schweiz
Mitsubishi Electric
Bauprojekt 2.0 (2018)
Block Research Group, ETH Zurich
Architecture and Building Systems Group, ETH Zurich
ROK Architects

In collaboration with:
Bollinger + Grohmann Ingenieure
Institute of Structural Concrete, RWTH Aachen
Mitsubishi
HHM
Bauprojekt 1.0 (2015)
supermanoeuvre
Block Research Group, ETH Zurich
Architecture and Building Systems Group, ETH Zurich

In collaboration with:
Zwarts & Jansma Architects
HSSP
Hämmerle & Partner
Bollinger + Grohmann Ingenieure
Wichser Akustik & Bauphysik
WaltGalmarini AG
HHM
Gruner Roschi
ZHWA