Reused concrete – the latest construction material on the block

The EPFL SXL - Structural Xploration Lab’s goal is to support the construction industry in its transition towards a more circular economy, with a reduced environmental impact. The research group focuses on the geometry of structural solutions, their interactive composition, and their construction.

Over the last few years, the Structural Xploration Lab has focused its research energies on identifying new opportunities to equip architectural and structural engineering practices with tools that facilitate the reuse of materials reclaimed from buildings that have been carefully 'unbuilt'. After developing optimisation tools for the reuse of wood and steel elements in new structures, and building on the success of its footbridge prototype 're:crete', the Lab demonstrates that the use of components which have been saw-cut from reinforced concrete structures is not only technically feasible but also environmentally efficient and economically viable.

SXL is currently working on several research projects aimed at demystifying and promoting the reuse of concrete slabs, walls, beams and columns. This includes identifying and analysing historical precedents, as well as establishing and testing re-usability assessment protocols. It is also developing and evaluating the impact of ad-hoc assembly techniques, digitalising industrial processes, and building prototypes. So far, every new result generates by its work is more promising than the last.

Pre-used building materials are the cleanest type of building material. Let's not waste it.

Corentin Fivet, Head of the Structural Xploration Lab


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