Discover the Smart Living Lab 2021 annual report! For the Smart Living Lab, 2021 was a year of significant progress in all facets of its mission as a centre of basic and applied research. It successfully launched a call for tenders for the construction of its own dedicated building. A local company JPF Entreprise Générale SA in Bulle was the winning bidder. As project owner, BFF SA, oversaw every step of the process, ably assisted by Smart Living Lab specialists and their expert input.

We were also delighted at the strength of public support for the development of the bluefactory innovation district, which was further confirmed in the cantonal referendum held on 13 June 2021. The result is a major boost for the construction projects that will advance the redevelopment the brownfield site and the creation of a custom-built home for the Smart Living Lab.

The Smart Living Lab is currently developing a dynamic BIM model, which will serve as a digital twin of the new building. As a result, the team will be able to run simulations and benefit from interactive augmented reality visuals. They also presented their work to date to the scientific community and industry representatives at the CISBAT 2021 conference and the energissima Sustainable Construction Forum.

"The Smart Living Lab is developing a dynamic BIM model, which will serve as a digital twin of the new building. As a result, the team will be able to run simulations and benefit from interactive augmented reality visuals."

The general public also had the opportunity to learn more about and try out some of the prototypes developed by Smart Living Lab researchers. Two such examples are the life-size pavilion designed to mitigate the effect of urban heat islands which was set up at successive locations in the city of Fribourg, as well as the world's first footbridge built from reused concrete, which was unveiled at a special press conference. Also, members of the Smart Living Lab who are at the forefront of their field spoke at a range of national and international events, including the Cantonal Sustainable Development Day, the Housing Forum, RENT Switzerland, the 2021 Salon Public on the future of energy, and the Swiss-US Energy Innovation Days.

This report provides an overview of the scientific output of the Smart Living Lab over the past year and features a directory of the projects, publications and conference presentations carried out by our researchers in 2021. The Smart Living Lab has many strengths, but the most important is undoubtedly its interdisciplinary collaboration. This was on show in 2021 when the Swiss Federal Office of Energy launched a call for proposals for its SWEET 'Living and Working' programme. The Smart Living Lab formed a consortium with 10 academic partners from across Switzerland and coordinated the bid submission. The resulting eight-year research project SWICE, won in 2022 by the Smart Living Lab, is designed to help Switzerland cut its energy use and engage with the public through Living Labs.

In 2021, we were delighted to welcome Professor Séréna Vanbutsele as the new head of the TRANSFORM Institute at the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg. Following the restructuring of the EPFL direction, the past year also saw the arrival of several new members to the Joint Steering Committee of the Smart Living Lab.

Building work is set to begin on our new permanent 5,000m2 facility in 2022. Once it is fully up and running, the Smart Living Lab will be in a position to realize its ambition of becoming a true living lab and expanding its reach even further by hosting research teams from the EPFL, the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg and the University of Fribourg.


Martin Gonzenbach

Director of Operations EPFL Fribourg and Smart Living Lab
-modeling, simulations and algorithms
-technology transfer

Laure Thorens