Innovation is key to new solid wood campus extension by 3XN and Itten+Brechbühl in Switzerland | news
“Ecotope” – Extension of the solid wood campus for the Science Park and the Innovation Square of the EPFL. Image reproduced courtesy of 3XN.
A little over 30 years after it opened in 1991, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) innovation park in Ecublens, Switzerland, has announced a major campus expansion to be spearheaded by 3XN and the local studio Itten+Brechbuehl (IB).
Their new master plan, dubbed Ecotype, includes 10 new solid wood structures and a few Biophilia-lined green spaces that will gradually double the size of the entrepreneurial EPFL campus over a ten-year period. According to 3XN’s Jan Ammundsen, “Ecotope will be a campus that enables and generates disruptive innovative solutions by being the interface between EPFL and society as a whole.”
The project is being implemented to ensure that the 30 or so start-ups that the Innovation Park spawns annually provide the physical spaces needed to thrive. The Innovation Park will be developed around six central “principles” of Biophilia – “Bliss, Modularity, Sustainability, Strong Identity and Comfort” as outlined by the design team.
EPFL President Martin Vetterli explains: “Our university was a pioneer 30 years ago when we physically brought university researchers and companies together in one place and forged close ties to the Swiss economy and society. We started supporting start-ups from a very early stage and it has proven to be a successful strategy. When personally asked to advise young researchers, I encourage them to pursue careers in industry as much as in academia. We can make a difference in both areas. Ecotope marks a significant step forward in this journey and will help ensure that EPFL remains a key player in the local economy and a key driver of our dynamic region.”
The first phase of construction will begin in 2023 and will include what 3XN and IB have dubbed a “green transport system” that will connect the new development to EPFL’s main campus, just over a kilometer away.
The tandem will try to build on their previous local collaborations for bulk timber Visit Tilia and the new IOC headquarters to implement the innovation-oriented project. In a press release, IB’s Sabrina Bédu discussed post-Covid workplace design, adding that the overall concept is “about blurring the lines between scale, space and use, and seeking transformative engineering solutions to minimize the impact of the building itself “.