News Overview

Inauguration of the Swiss solar house NeighborHub

Author: ENAC Communication / smart living lab

The official inauguration of the NeighborHub takes place in Fribourg on 26 April in the presence of the President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard. The NeighborHub opens its doors to the public on 28 and 29 April.

The Swiss solar house "NeighborHub" took residence in Fribourg, following its victory in October 2017 at the international competition Solar Decathlon in Denver (USA). Reassembled at the heart of the blueFACTORY innovation district, it has been inaugurated on 26 April in the presence of the President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, as part of his two-day state visit in Switzerland, and the Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard.

Martin Vetterli, President of EPFL, Luciana Vaccaro, Rector of University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HES-SO), Astrid Epiney, Rector of University of Fribourg and Marilyne Andersen, Dean of the EPFL’s School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC), welcomed them, as well as the students of the Swiss team called "Swiss Living Challenge". On 28 and 29 April 2018, an open house will allow the public to discover the NeighborHub’s features.

The NeighborHub has returned successful in its western conquest after securing eight podiums out of a possible ten, including six gold medals under the banner “Swiss Living Challenge”. More than 250 students from the EPFL, the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, the Geneva School of Art and Design, and the University of Fribourg, 150 teaching staff from industry and academia together with approximately 50 public and private partners collaborated in this victorious adventure. The 70 tons of materials required for the construction of the NeighborHub crossed the Atlantic from the USA in twelve containers destined for Fribourg. The reassembly of the solar house took six weeks, spanning for February to April 2018, on location at the blueFACTORY.

Architectural qualities, energy performance and intelligent water management
Rewarded in Denver in October 2017 for its architectural qualities, its energy performance and its intelligent water management, the NeighborHub distinguishes itself on several levels. In particular, it is equipped with 29 photovoltaic solar panels, all affixed to the façade and fitted with power optimizers, so as to maximize the available surface; a closed water circuit that values the recovery of rainwater and integrates aquaponics; a living roof and management of outer spaces that favors biodiversity. The building’s structure is made up of wooden modules. It delimits a center, the core, and a tempered outer area, the skin. The NeighborHub was imagined as a meeting place for local residents, in view of developing solutions for reducing and improving consumption. The measures endorsed include the use of renewable energy, mobility, water and waste management, food, biodiversity and building materials.

A new way of living at the neighborhood scale
The NeighborHub is modular thanks to its flexible architecture, its mobile and foldable furnishing and an interior design capable of adapting to a variety of activities such as repair cafés, urban vegetable gardens, courses for sustainable cooking, etc. Beyond a mere solar house, these multifunctional spaces “offer a new way of living that is collective and environmentally friendly at a neighbourhood scale” says Marilyne Andersen, academic project leader. As of September 2018, Martin Schick, cultural manager of the blueFACTORY, will make it his playground as well as that of the inhabitants of Fribourg, offering various workshops centered on informing and exchanging, research and demonstration.