New concrete roof includes thin-film PV cells to generate power

October 20, 2017 by  
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Digital design and fabrication techniques allowed researchers in Switzerland to create a curvy, super thin concrete roof that will one day help a residential unit produce more power than it consumes. Using the innovative methods, the researchers assembled the roof with much less materials than would otherwise be needed. The concrete roof is also equipped with thin-film photovoltaic cells to generate energy. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) recently unveiled the prototype for a sinuous, self-supporting concrete roof. The roof is comprised of multiple layers, including concrete , heating and cooling coils, insulation, and more concrete fitted with thin film solar cells. The prototype was around 25-feet-tall, with a surface area of around 1,722 feet squared. The average thickness of the concrete was around two inches; the support surfaces had a thickness of 4.7 inches and the edges of the roof were just around one inch thick. Related: The company that offered integrated solar roofs before Elon Musk A cable net supporting a polymer textile provided the formwork for the concrete roof. The researchers used a precise concrete mix, fluid enough to be sprayed but firm enough to not flow off. Professor of Architecture and Structures Philippe Block said in a statement, “We’ve shown that it’s possible to build an exciting thin concrete shell structure using a lightweight, flexible formwork, thus demonstrating that complex concrete structures can be formed without wasting large amounts of material for their construction.” The prototype has already been dismantled to make room for other experiments, but in 2018, the roof will be erected atop materials science and technology research institute Empa ‘s HiLo Penthouse. Guest faculty will live and work in the penthouse, which is expected to produce more energy that it uses thanks to the concrete roof’s solar cells and what ETH Zurich described as an adaptive solar facade . Via ETH Zurich Images © Block Research Group, ETH Zurich/Michael Lyrenmann and © Block Research Group, ETH Zurich/Naida Iljazovic

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New concrete roof includes thin-film PV cells to generate power

Swiss company touts carbon capture breakthrough

June 12, 2017 by  
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Climeworks plans to use the carbon dioxide captured at a facility near Zurich as fertilizer for greenhouses.

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Swiss company touts carbon capture breakthrough

10 minutes with Tom Murray, EDF+Business

June 12, 2017 by  
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The NGO executive talks corporate partnerships and why sustainable business leaders need to get better at illustrating the story link between a thriving economy and a healthy environment.

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10 minutes with Tom Murray, EDF+Business

Can urban forests cultivate sustainable healthcare?

June 12, 2017 by  
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An unprecedented research project is correlating medical data about more than 4 million Kaiser Permanente subscribers with their proximity to trees and green spaces.

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Can urban forests cultivate sustainable healthcare?

IBM creates first-ever artificial neurons that behave like the real thing

August 4, 2016 by  
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IBM researchers in Switzerland have created an artificial neuron that behaves just like the real thing . For the first time in history, artificial phase-change neurons have been grouped together (in a population of 500 synthesized in a lab) to process a neurological signal in more or less the same way that biological neurons transmit messages. They can be made exceptionally small and are similar in power and energy usage to biological neurons, and can even produce results with random variations, also just like biological neurons. For non-scientists, the importance of this discovery may not be immediately apparent. IBM ’s artificial neuron , developed by a research team in Zurich, is quite literally the next best thing to a naturally created biological neuron. The lab-created version has all the same components of a biological neuron, including inputs (dendrites), a neuronal membrane (lipid bilayer) around the spike generator (soma, nucleus), and an output (axon). Likewise, its functions mimic those of its biological counterpart. Related: Scientists create the world’s first enzymes using synthetic biology In addition to all that, the artificial neurons are durable, made from well-known materials that can withstand trillions of switching cycles. They are tiny (around 90 nanometers) and researchers believe they can make them even smaller, possibly as minuscule as 14nm. The researchers started by creating 500 artificial neurons together in a chain capable of sending signals, which means the IBM team has created the closest artificial version of a biological neuron. In the next phase of research, the team will create a much larger population of artificial neurons, with thousands of individual units, and write software to push their capabilities to the limit. The study results were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Via Ars Technica Images via IBM

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IBM creates first-ever artificial neurons that behave like the real thing

Switzerland unveils cloud-like pavilion at Venice Biennale

July 26, 2016 by  
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Kerez’s pavilion is an attempt to think about, construct, and experience architecture differently. This experimental work designed for a specific location and occasion is an autonomous piece that, trying to avoid a conventional design framework, seeks greater innovation. Done to stand only for itself, and not to represent any other work of architecture nor a tendency or any other specific construction or design method, the Swiss pavilion is an abstract experience that boldly stands out from other Biennale participants showcasing conventional models, drawings and photographs. Related: Thousands of keys strung from blood-red yarn evoke Japan’s Great Tohoku Earthquake The interior of the artificially formed cloud realized in fiber cement evokes a natural geological structure. In addition to resembling a real cloud, the Swiss pavilion is itself a huge cloud of data – the result of coupling and sequencing craftsmanship and digital processes to create a complex architectonic space. + Christian Kerez + Venice Biennale Images via Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat

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Switzerland unveils cloud-like pavilion at Venice Biennale

The Armadillo Vault’s hundreds of limestone slabs are held together without glue

June 7, 2016 by  
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ETH Zurich’s Block Research Group worked in collaboration with engineering firm Ochsendorf DeJong & Block and masonry specialist The Escobedo Group to bring the structure to life using expertly designed compression techniques. 399 limestone slabs were brought together after mapping out the technique on RhinoVAULT , a design plugin licensed by the group. Philippe Block and Tom Van Mele of the research group said, “Without any glue or mortar, with perfectly dry connections, this is really a milestone for stone engineering.” Related: 26 years, 9 tons of limestone, and a whole lot of love went into this magical fairytale house The Armadillo Vault spans 16 meters (about 20 feet), yet some sections are only as thick as five centimeters. Proportionally, the structure is half the thickness of an eggshell and remarkably strong. Each slab of limestone was left unfinished on the bottom side for time’s sake, creating an exterior resembling an armadillo shell and an underbelly of textured stripes. The intentional choice of finicky limestone demonstrates how the “relationship between geometry and forces” can be achieved with precision and respect for the materials. Once the Venice Biennale ends, the Armadillo Vault will be moved to a different location. Described as an “intricate 3D puzzle ” by the team, the structure can be disassembled and put back together while still maintaining its stability. +ETH Zurich Via  Dezeen Images via Iwan Baan , David Escobedo ,  Anna Maragkoudaki

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The Armadillo Vault’s hundreds of limestone slabs are held together without glue

Historic viaduct arches are transformed into a trendy shopping district in Zurich

April 14, 2016 by  
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Historic viaduct arches are transformed into a trendy shopping district in Zurich

11 maps to mark the COP21 climate talks

December 8, 2015 by  
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No more words. From Aberdeen to Zurich, these maps display a world of activity at the U.N. climate talks in Paris.

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11 maps to mark the COP21 climate talks

Google employees in Zurich (Zooglers) have the world’s coolest repurposed office

February 15, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Google employees in Zurich (Zooglers) have the world’s coolest repurposed office Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: adaptive reuse , collaborative space , daylight , Daylighting , eco design , glass-partitioning , Google , green design , green renovation , green space , sustainable design , Zooglers , Zurich

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Google employees in Zurich (Zooglers) have the world’s coolest repurposed office

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