On May 23, 2016, Swiss research took another great step into the future: the modular experimental building NEST was inaugurated in Dübendorf, near Zurich. It is located on the research campus of Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) and Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology).
NEST combines research, the industry and the public sector as it includes not only research laboratories but also office space and a residential block. Currently, the network of NEST partners counts about 90 members from research, industry and the public sector. The goal of NEST is to get the different stakeholders to co-develop sustainable technologies, materials and systems and test them under real-world conditions within the same modular building. Energy and water are the primary research objects of NEST. The first two units are already in use, one by Meet2Create created by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts – Engineering & Architecture and researching the working world of the future; the other one by Vision Wood, Empa and ETH designed housing modules for students. Seven other units are scheduled to be put in use this year, before freeing up the space for other researchers after five to seven years.
NEST is a modular building, meaning that modules, named “research and innovation units”, can be placed and replaced according to the plug-and-play principle. So the backbone, the three platforms, remain constant while the modules are continuously changing. This dynamic design should allow flexibility and adaptation to upcoming issues in the fields of energy and water. Integrated in NEST is also ehub, an energy research platform which optimizes energy management by generating, storing, converting or releasing energy.
The concept of NEST itself is very unique. May it lead to innovation and fruitful research!
(photos from: https://www.empa.ch/web/nest/downloads)