ETH Zurich and self-healing concrete
Zurich - courtesy: Instagram.com/taorminalocke
Swiss academics are pushing ahead this year with vital research into sustainability and our future cities.
ETH Zurich covers a number of research areas that help society and aims to look at the economy both globally and locally, but based in the very city that Dutch building consultants, Arcadis has named as the top out of 100 most sustainable cities, it is a university that is concerned with the built and public space environment too.
The test by Arcadis used 32 indicators to make their assessment, ranging from life expectancy, education and income inequality to energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and green space within cities. Zurich's investment in efficient and renewable energies, a sustainable public transport system and a willingness to increase public awareness of environmental issues were highlighted as achievements in the Arcadis report.
The University describe cities as 'cultural centres' that help grow economies but is concerned with those that as yet are not sustainable. Energy research at the University is aimed at creating a 1-ton CO2 society, while in the health area, how to maintain a good quality of life into old age. Materials research holds an important place at ETH Zurich, as does study of industrial processes which enable the creation of innovative products while making efficient use of resources. There is awareness among academic staff that 'in an increasingly networked world, the risks also become more complex...it is important to identify, understand and model these risks in order to be able to react more effectively to crises.'
A Future Cities Laboratory has also been set up at ETH Zurich and Professor Dirk Hebel is carrying out research on building with water, mycelium and bamboo. ' I want to grow a house from mushrooms' he says, while he works on ideas such as chairs pressed from recycled paper, concrete that 'heals' cracks thanks to enclosed dormant bacteria. In his laboratory, he stores the same materials that were shown at the International Architecture Biennale in Venice this year.