Go to top

EPFL students push the boundaries of concrete engineering

In September 2019, 26 architecture and civil engineering students from EPFL and Brazil’s Federal University of Bahia spent 14 days at the Smart Living Lab in Fribourg. The students built a prototype modular structure from textile-reinforced concrete, a material that uses carbon fiber in place of steel rods, plus purpose-built metal formwork. The pavilion is far thinner and lighter than similar conventional reinforced concrete structures – the roof shell measures just 9mm thick – without compromising on static resistance. According to the staff who led the workshop, this construction technique has a bright future on account of its sustainability credentials: it uses far fewer materials than traditional methods and is compatible with low-carbon cement, resulting in sharply lower CO2 emissions. What’s more, the load-bearing sections can be taken apart and reused and are light enough to be carried by only one or two people. Ultimately, the new material could allow more people to self-build simple, weather-resistant homes without the need for heavy construction machinery.