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HiLo - Research & innovation unit for NEST, Dübendorf, Switzerland, 2011-2021

HiLo demonstrates the potential of digital concrete construction to lower em-bodied 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.

More info

Please visit the dedicated project page: https://block.arch.ethz.ch/hilo

Research

Rib-stiffened funicular floor system

Rib-stiffened funicular floor system

This research develops the structure for an unreinforced concrete floor consisting of a thin funicular vault stiffened by a series of spandrel walls on its extrados. The structural floor is completed with tension ties, which link the supports and absorb the horizontal thrusts of the funicular shell. A first version of this innovation is built in the NEST HiLo project, realised in 2021 on the Empa campus in Dübendorf, Switzerland.

Cable-net and fabric formworks for concrete shells

Cable-net and fabric formworks for concrete shells

This project investigates the feasibility of using both large cable nets with a secondary system of fabric shuttering as well as fabric directly as a formwork for concrete shells. These lightweight formwork systems reduce the need for seperate foundations of the formwork and allow unobstructed space underneath the shell during construction.

Active control of a cable-net formwork

Active control of a cable-net formwork

The use of tensioned formworks in concrete shell construction can reduce the demand on foundations, promote usable and unobstructed internal space during construction, encourage formwork re-use for repeated application, and greatly eliminate the material waste often experienced with traditional timber formwork and falsework. To understand the behaviour of such a net system prior to the pouring of the wet concrete, this research project investigates the fabrication, control and measurement systems needed to define a geometrically accurate net prior to concrete pouring, such that it will displace under the wet concrete self-weight to the correct final shape. The internal pre-stress forces as well as the forces and deflections at the boundary points also need careful consideration.

Acoustic insulation through structural stiffness

Acoustic insulation through structural stiffness

This research studies the relationship between the stiffness and the acoustical insulation properties of structural shells. The primary research objective is the creation of strategies that enable designers to create shell structures that simultaneously optimize the structural capacity and minimize sound transmission. The expected output is a set of guidelines for the generation of structural forms that allows for more accurate predictions of acoustical behavior, especially in shell structures, reduces the amount of materials required, and results in energy efficient construction.

Publications

Block P., Schlueter A., Veenendaal D., Bakker J., Begle M., Hischier I., Hofer J., Jayathissa P., Maxwell I., Mendez Echenagucia T., Nagy Z., Pigram D., Svetozarevic, B,, Torsing R., Verbeek J., Willmann A. and Lydon G.P.NEST HiLo: Investigating lightweight construction and adaptive energy systems,Journal of Building Engineering,12: 332-341,2017.
Veenendaal D., Bakker J. and Block P.Structural design of the flexibly formed, mesh-reinforced concrete sandwich shell roof of NEST Hilo,Journal of the International Association of Shell and Spatial Structures,58(1): 23-38,2017 (March).
Liew A., López López D., Van Mele T. and Block P.Design, fabrication and testing of a prototype, thin-vaulted, unreinforced concrete floor,Engineering Structures,137: 323-335,2017.
Liew A., Stürz Y. R., Guillaume S., Van Mele T., Smith R. S. and Block P.Active control of a rod-net formwork system prototype,Automation in Construction,96: 128-140,2018.
Veenendaal D.Design and form finding of flexibly formed shell structures,ETH Zurich, Department of ArchitectureZurich,2017 (March).
Veenendaal D., Bezbradica M., Novak D. and Block P.Controlling the geometry and forces of hybrid cable-net and fabric formworks,Proceedings of the IASS-SLTE 2014 Symposium,Brasilia, Brazil,2014.
López López D., Veenendaal D., Akbarzadeh M. and Block P.Prototype of an ultra-thin, concrete vaulted floor system,Proceedings of the IASS-SLTE 2014 Symposium,Brasilia, Brazil,2014.
Block P.Parametricism's structural congeniality,AD Architectural Design,86(2): 68-75,2016 (March/April).Special issue P. Schumacher (Ed.) - Parametricism 2.0: Rethinking Architecture’s Agenda for the 21st Century.
ETH ZurichDARCHITA

 

ETH Zurich
Institute of Technology in Architecture
Block Research Group
Stefano-Franscini-Platz 1, HIB E 45
8093 Zurich, Switzerland
paulson@arch.ethz.ch
block.arch.ethz.ch

+41 44 633 38 35  phone
+41 44 633 10 53  fax

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