The Rolex Learning Centre (“EPFL Learning Centre”), designed by the winners of 2010 Pritzker Prize, Japanese-duo SANAA, is a university hub and study center in Lausanne, Switzerland. The space, which opened in 2012 to both students and the public, houses a library, student work spaces, offices, a restaurant, and a café spread out over 215,000 square feet on one open, rolling level. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to a slice of Swiss cheese, its rectangular form is punctuated by a dozen or so variously-sized holes, or patios. The patios bring daylight to all areas of the building, and the larger ones serve as entrances where their sloping forms touch the ground. Notably, the concrete—in some areas almost 3 feet thick—was poured over a precise formwork of sloping geometries created from 1,400 individual molds.
The ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2014-15 demonstrates the architectural potential of a novel building method inspired by the underwater nest construction of the water spider. Through a novel robotic fabrication process an initially flexible pneumatic formwork is gradually stiffened by reinforcing it with carbon fibers from the inside. The resulting lightweight fiber composite shell forms a pavilion with unique architectural qualities, while at the same time being a highly material-efficient structure.