Swiss-Korean Academic Exchange Program on built working environment

The smart living lab team comprised of professors Dolaana Khovalyg (EPFL), Dusan Licina (EPFL), Raphaël Compagnon (HEIA-FR), Denis Lalanne (University of Fribourg), and Industry liaison officer Martin Gonzenbach (EPFL) traveled to Seoul, South Korea, for the kick-off meeting on 3-4 September to develop the Swiss-Korean Academic Exchange Program on the topic of sustainable and comfortable built working environment. South Korean partners were represented by professors Thorsten Schuetze (SungKyunKwan University), Yoonhie Lee (EWHA University), Sung-Taeg Nam (Hanyang University). The program was initiated by the Science and Technology Office (STO) of the Embassy of Switzerland in the Republic of Korea, led by Alessandra Apicella, as the cooperation in science and education between the two countries.

The attention to the concept of comfort and performance in the indoor built environment is growing worldwide due to the increase in working hours in the offices and the space limitation in highly populated cities. The lack of comfort in the working space could affect the health, performance, and efficiency of the occupants. It is well known, that Seoul has an extremely dense population and high amount of office workers working extensive hours. Oppositely, Switzerland remains a relatively protected country, with low population density and a well-established attention to the inside built environment and comfort. The extreme working environment and cultural differences, traditions, and challenges of South Korea and Switzerland is fertile soil to brainstorm around the inside built environment issues.

Through the meeting of Swiss and Korean students from different disciplines such as architecture, engineering, computer science, sociology and psychology, the Swiss professors, together with their South Korean counterparts, aim to guide the students in the process of the generation of innovative solutions in the field of the inside built environment, human-building interaction in the urban reality of South Korea in the Summer of 2019 and in Switzerland in Winter of 2020. The kick-off meeting on September 3-4 established the pedagogical framework and concrete basis for the development of these two linked exchange schools. The first edition of this transcultural and interdisciplinary educational program will be available for students of EPFL, UNIFR, HEIA-FR, EWHA University, Hanyang University, SungKyunKwan University, and the call for applications will be open in December 2018.

Along with the kick-off meeting, the smart living lab team attended the Open Talk “Technology meets Architecture – Designing Together the Living Environment of Tomorrow” organized by STO Seoul and opened by the Ambassador of Switzerland in the Republic of Korea, Mr. H.E. Linus von Castelmur. The event aimed to bring together experts and innovators from academia and private sector from Switzerland and South Korea to present concrete examples of projects and visions to design together with the living environment of tomorrow. The smart living lab was presented by two talks: “Inter-disciplinary experimental platform for the built environment of the future – smart living lab” by Prof. Dolaana Khovalyg and “Human-Building Interaction” by Prof. Dennis Lalanne.

More information

Call for tenders for preliminary design of new building for smart living lab

The ‘smart living lab’, a research and development center for the built environment of the future, will launch an open call for tenders for a collaborative parallel studies mandate (MEP*) to produce a preliminary design for its new building. The experimental building is intended to showcase pioneering approaches to resource efficiency. Construction will take place on the blueFACTORY site in Fribourg. Multidisciplinary design offices will have until October 2018 to submit their prequalification bids. The final winner and the preliminary design of the building will be announced at the end of June 2019.

An evolving building, an experimental tool
Construction of this experimental building for the exclusive use of the smart living lab will begin in Fribourg in 2020. Housed in the blueFACTORY Blue Hall back in 2015, this research center combines the expertise of the EPFL, the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (HEIA-FR) and the University of Fribourg (UNIFR). With a gross floor area of approximately 5,000 m2, 130 workplaces and a budget of CHF 25 million, the future smart living lab building is intended as a sustainable construction that will evolve over time. The building should lend itself to multiple uses and serve as an experimental tool for work under real conditions. It should further the aims of research and improve its own performance over its entire life cycle. Breaking new ground in the management of user comfort and the efficient use of resources, the new building is expected to reach the Confederation's 2050 energy targets thirty years ahead of schedule.

Open call for tenders, guaranteeing quality and equal opportunities
A collaborative parallel studies mandate (MEP) should enable a preliminary design of the future building to be prepared between September 2018 and June 2019. Since funding will come from the Canton of Fribourg, project design and execution are subject to cantonal legislation on public procurement contracts. As project owner, Bluefactory Fribourg-Freiburg SA has delegated organization of the MEP to the smart living lab. A call for tenders open to all interested design offices, whether in Switzerland or abroad, will ensure equal opportunities and encourage high project quality. The smart living lab will prequalify bidders on the basis of its assessment of their expertise. After that, a mostly independent panel of experts will review and assess individual project bids. This process will include various intermediate discussions conducted in a spirit of openness. These discussions will take place in the presence of the panel of experts, representatives of all selected design offices as well as researchers and specialists from the smart living lab. By emphasizing a collaborative approach conducive to inter-institutional and transdisciplinary dialogue, the process is intended to reflect the essential nature of the future building itself: multidisciplinary and serving as a catalyst for progress.

*in French: mandat d’études parallèles (MEP)

Call for tenders (published as of 14th September 2018)
More information

Anne-Claude Cosandey, Operational Director, EPFL Fribourg Outpost and Coordinator, smart living lab, +41 21 693 51 82, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Philippe Jemmely, Director, Bluefactory Fribourg-Freiburg SA, +41 26 422 37 10, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Interview with Dolaana Khovalyg, new Assistant Professor at the smart living lab

Dolaana Khovalyg was appointed as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Energy and Building Systems Engineering at the School of Architecture, Civil, and Environmental Engineering (ENAC) at EPFL. She will lead the new smart living lab's research group Thermal Engineering for the Built Environment Laboratory (TEBEL) in Fribourg as of 01.09.2018.

You just arrived at the smart living lab, which includes EPFL, HEIA-FR and UNIFR. What are your first impressions about this interdisciplinary research center?
The smart living lab is certainly a unique interdisciplinary platform that brings together researchers focusing on various aspects of the built environment aiming to collectively address the challenges of future buildings. Such environment allows not only to develop new synergies but also promotes debates between researchers from different, sometimes not obviously related, fields (e.g. between construction lawyers and engineers). In my opinion, this creates a great opportunity for us to reflect, to have a different perspective on our own research and to strive for strong outcomes. My overall impression is that the smart living lab is an exciting place to work and to innovate because of its diversity.

Can you tell us more about your career in academia?
I obtained my BS and MS degree in thermophysics from the Moscow Power Engineering Institute. After working in the RAC (refrigeration & air-conditioning) industry for 5 years, I moved to the US after being granted a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a PhD degree. I obtained my PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) where I performed research at the advanced Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Center (ACRC) with focus on environmentally friendly (compact, lightweight, less refrigerant use, and thermodynamically efficient) heat exchangers for air-conditioning. While being a PhD candidate, I participated at the Global Young Scientists Summit in Singapore and had an entry in the “Sustainable and Livable Cities” challenge. My proposal on “Net-Zero Energy Air-Conditioning and Dehumidification” was one of the eight finalists worldwide, and this sparked my interest in sustainable and livable indoor environment which has a significant importance nowadays. In order to familiarize myself with thermal comfort and occupants behavior, I pursued a postdoctoral appointment at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), specifically at the International Center for Indoor Environment and Energy (ICIEE). And finally, all my academic milestones led me to my current position at EPFL.

What are you most excited about your appointment as Head of the new Thermal Engineering for the Built Environment Laboratory (TEBEL)?
I’m excited about the opportunity to form my own team and to set the research direction of the Lab in an attempt to shape the future of the built environment. I am also thrilled about the chance to educate young generation and to solve the research questions together.

What will your research focus on over the coming year?
The overall focus of my lab will be on minimizing energy use for thermal conditioning of buildings and building services such as HVAC and hot water supply. The reduction of energy use by building services is intended to be achieved by coupling systems with renewables and maximizing available heat recovery at the source, building, and neighborhood level. Advancement of personalized control of the indoor environment is an approach of TEBEL to enhance the performance of mechanical systems and to ensure comfortable working and living conditions for diverse occupants. And last, but not the least, TEBEL will also focus on active building envelope exchanging heat and moisture efficiently between indoors and outdoors and reducing the use of mechanical HVAC systems.

What inspires you about the built environment of the future and its research schemes?
I envision the future built environment to become highly intelligent, human-centered but at the same time more open and shared. Future buildings will not be designed using average metrics any more, but with the right balance between individual and group needs, which in my opinion, is a big challenge that needs to be addressed.

Whenever you are not doing research, what are you interested in?
Whenever I am not focused on my work, I parent my daughter who is 9 months old at the moment. I enjoy re-discovering the world with her, learning again how everything functions, and take a new look at very ordinary things.

Contact Dolanna Khovalyg
TEBEL research group

The "EDCE PhD Mobility Award" honors Jan Brütting

Jan Brütting, PhD student at the Structural Exploration Lab (SXL) is a winner of the "EDCE PhD Mobility Award", May 2018. This award is given by the doctoral program in Civil and Environmental Engineering (EDCE) to encourage the best PhD students within the program to go for an academic visit to an external research institution. Read Jan Brütting's testimony about his PhD research and his future academic visit to Belgium.
"I am currently developing my PhD research at the Structural Xploration Lab (SXL), which is part of the smart living lab in Fribourg. We conduct research at the interface of architecture and structural engineering with the aim of tackling global environmental problems caused by the building sector: exhaustive resource and energy consumption. My research focuses on the integration of circular economy principles in the structural design process. Circular economy advocates a closed loop flow of materials and components to extend their service life. For this purpose, I have developed structural optimization formulations that facilitate the design of reticulated structures, reusing a stock of reclaimed structural elements. At the same time, structural optimization remains a theoretical answer to the idea of integrating reuse in structural design practice. Gaining insight into real case applications is crucial to understand the potential drivers but also the limitations of this paradigm. From this standpoint, I will substantiate my research through a stay at two host institutions in Belgium, namely theKatholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) and theVrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).
A stay at the Faculty of Engineering Science at KUL in collaboration with Prof. Mattias Schevenels, who is renowned for his work in the field of structural optimization, will be a valuable addition to my current optimization method. An extension of my methods to new structural typologies is a planned outcome of this stay. A second host will be the multi-disciplinary TRANSFORM lab at VUB, led by Prof. Niels de Temmerman, who conducts applied research on transformable buildings and component reuse as a response to above introduced environmental challenges of the built environment. Their experience can inform my developed methods with practical constraints that need to be considered to facilitate the design of structures in a circular manner."

Interview with Dusan Licina, Head of the new Human-Oriented Built Environment Lab

Dusan Licina was appointed as Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Indoor Environmental Quality at the School for Architecture, Civil, and Environmental Engineering (ENAC) at EPFL. He leads the new smart living lab's research group Human-Oriented Built Environment Lab (HOBEL) in Fribourg since 1 June 2018.

1.    You just arrived at the smart living lab, which includes EPFL, HEIA-FR and UNIFR. What are your first impressions about this interdisciplinary research center?
I’ve been following development of the smart living lab since its very inception. While the institution is still relatively young and many researcher (including me) are considered newcomers, I think that a substantial amount of work has been done so far. Nevertheless, I feel that we have just scratched the surface, and that many new projects and partnerships are ahead of us. Future looks bright!

2.    Can you tell us more about your career in academia?
Throughout my academic career, I’ve specialized in air quality engineering, focusing on sources and transport of air pollutants in buildings, human exposure assessment, and optimization of building ventilation systems with an aim to improve air quality. I moved around quite a bit. I completed my joint Doctorate degree at the National University of Singapore and Technical University of Denmark. Before that, I completed my MSc and BSc degrees in mechanical engineering (University of Belgrade). Last couple of years I spent at both West and East coast of the USA – first I was a postdoc at the University of California Berkeley, after which I moved to New York where I worked on the development of the first rating system that focuses exclusively on the impacts of buildings on human health and wellness. It’s time to settle down!

3.    What are you most excited about your appointment as Head of the new Human-Oriented Built Environment Lab?
I’m excited about building relationships and collaborations with my new colleagues, as well as building a whole new team of enthusiastic & bright students and postdocs that will (hopefully) become the future leaders in the field. I am also thrilled about ongoing smart living lab's building project that, once completed, will be one of the most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly buildings worldwide.

4.    What will your research focus on over the coming year?
My professional obsession is to develop a strong research program that will advance knowledge of the intersections between people and the built environment. Broadly speaking, the key mission of my lab is to ensure that high indoor environmental quality for building occupants in achieved in an energy efficient manner. In the coming years, HOBEL will strive to improve our knowledge in domains of indoor air quality, assessment of human exposure to airborne pollutants, dynamics and fate of pollutants in buildings, advanced ventilation systems and controls, development of tools and methods for enhanced building environmental monitoring, thermal comfort of humans and their behaviour.

5.    What inspires you about the built environment of the future and its research schemes?
Despite great advancements in building sustainability, I think that on a global scale there is still a considerable gap between where we are now and where we want to be. We must not forget about developing economies where we can create the biggest influence on people’s lives through our research, innovation and implementation. Raising awareness about the air quality issues worldwide is important and I hope that smart living lab will contribute to this effort. Buildings of the future must not only be energy efficient, but they should also contribute to “Michelin Star” air quality.

6.    Whenever you are not doing research, what are you interested in?
Spending time with family and friends is very important to me. I’m passionate for discovering new places and getting to know people, their cultures and traditions from all over the world. I enjoy working out, swimming and hiking in the nature, but my favourite sport/hobby is playing pool. When I was a kid, I always dreamt of having a house with specially dedicated room with a pool table (yes, I am still the very same kid). I also play the accordion, piano and classical guitar, even though I cannot say that I am particularly good at them. Definitely need to dedicate more time to studying French!

ASHRAE honors Dusan Licina
Dusan Licina, Head of the Human-Oriented Built Environment Lab (HOBEL) at smart living lab, has just received the Ralph G. Nevins Physiology & Human Environment Award at the ASHRAE Annual Conference on 23-27.06.2018 in Houston. The award is given to an investigator for significant accomplishments in the study of man’s response to the environment and its effect on human comfort, health, and well-being. Through research, standards writing, publishing, certification and continuing education, ASHRAE and its 57'000 members worldwide strive to advance human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment.

Contact Dusan Licina

smart living lab's research groups

ASHRAE Website

The Grand Council grants a credit for the smart living lab’s building

To meet the 2050 energy goals by 2022: this is the challenge of the smart living lab’s future building at blueFACTORY. On 19 June 2018, the Grand Council of the Canton of Fribourg approved a refundable loan of 25 million francs for the construction of the building by 92 votes to 3.

The pioneering building will be sustainable and constantly evolving, and will inlcude laboratories, classrooms, and offices for over a hundred researchers. In this multiple-use context, the building itself will become an object of study in the quest for solutions to reduce power consumption, and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.


Illustrations: Amélie Poncety
Direction: Take Off Productions

The building of the smart living lab before the Grand Council of Fribourg

Press relase of the State of Fribourg on 16 March 2018: the project of the smart living lab's experimental building will be brought before the Grand Council of Fribourg.

The experimental building of the smart living lab will be submitted to the Grand Council of Fribourg at a forthcoming session. Considering the important growth rate of the research center, temporarily hosted in the Blue Hall, the project has been resized and the State Council has already accepted enlarging its surface by 1000 m2, and decided to add 5 Million Swiss Francs for this purpose. Read the full press release (in French or German).


Video soon available in English
Illustrations: Amélie Poncety
Direction: Take Off Productions
Page 1 of 2

Copyright 2015 © smart living lab