EPFL School of Life Sciences

EPFL School of Life Sciences

Devanthéry & Lamunière Architectes
Ecublens, Switzerland
Project Year
Fausto Pluchinotta

EPFL School of Life Sciences

Devanthéry & Lamunière Architectes as Architects

This project gives the School of Life Sciences new visibility. The "L" shaped volume connects the space of the new building to the centre of the campus. The imposing façade, perpendicular to the East-West axis of the first urbanisation phase of EPFL, draws attention to the Life Sciences building on the esplanade. At any time of the day or night, by its size and the way it projects itself, the façade forms a screen as well as a unique calling card. At the same time it is a forum welcoming researchers, students and professors. The project proposes a glass entry wall which gives a broad view of life inside the world of research and the flow of scientific information. "Insiders" as well as visitors talk, meet, work, drink coffee in a luminous coloured open space as information or discoveries are projected onto the glass wall. Once inside, this vast three-storeyed reception area makes it possible to situate, from bottom to top, the different functional units of the buildings.

The laboratory building provides a "flexible" framework and envelope. The static structure is punctual on a 7.20 m orthogonal basis. This device, as well as the modularity of the façade, allows great flexibility for inside partitioning. The modular division of the curtain façade defines, on the one hand, the size of the laboratories and their installations and, on the other hand, a division in two, on the small non-bearing mullion, for office partitioning. Moreover, one or more panels of the façade can be dismantled in order to allow future installations from the outside. The rhythm, the proportions and the extensive openings improve natural lighting, make it possible to regulate sunshine with slatted blinds and allow ventilation. Where the labs are not provided with air conditioning, night-time cooling is assured by the long vertical shutters protected by a sheathed aluminium plate which circulate air and protect from the rain. One only has to open a window in the evening and to raise or lower a blind to ensure comfort. However, this highly efficient façade is simple to use and is low-tech in all parts.

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