ENAC celebrates its 20 years and three disciplines in style

© 2022 EPFL

© 2022 EPFL

On 2 September 2022, EPFL’s School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC) celebrated its 20th anniversary at a high-energy event featuring expert perspectives on the challenges lying ahead.

The day-long event at EPFL’s SwissTech Convention Center was attended by over 700 people: students and faculty members, researchers, alumni, partner universities, businesses and public-sector organizations. “EPFL is one of the few universities in the world where the three disciplines of civil engineering, environmental engineering and architecture come together in a single school,” said EPFL President Martin Vetterli in his opening remarks. ENAC Dean Claudia R. Binder added: “Our school is unique in its ability to develop responses for a more sustainable future.”

ENAC Dean Claudia R. Binder and Associate Deans Vincent Kaufmann and Katrin Beyer used the anniversary celebration as an opportunity to present their strategy and outlook for the future, framed in three questions.

Engaging with the public
The event’s packed schedule included talks by three renowned experts on the sustainability-related challenges facing the built and natural environments: climate change, the digitalization of infrastructure and cities, and sustainable urban development. Each talk was followed by a panel discussion where the general public could weigh in.

The first speaker was Prof. Peter Messerli, the director of the Wyss Academy for Nature at the University of Bern, who outlined his vision for a more holistic approach to addressing climate issues. The second was Prof. Gesa Ziemer, the head of the CityScienceLab at HafenCity University Hamburg, who explained how new data-analysis tools can enhance urban-planning processes. And the third was Prof. Mimi Sheller, the dean of the Global School at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, who discussed the concept of mobility justice and urban planners’ need for more equitable approaches in coping with the effects of climate change.

A fourth and final panel discussion united ENAC deans from the past 20 years. They looked at the future of ENAC’s cross-disciplinary education, pinpointing the key skills that future engineers and architects will need to meet the challenges awaiting them.

Research groups display their work
In the entrance hall of the SwissTech Convention Center, visitors were given an opportunity to explore the innovative work being done by ENAC researchers. Some 90 booths showcased the technology – such as models, drones, touch screens and robots – being developed by over 60 ENAC labs and a handful of startups. Visitors got a hands-on look at their inventions and spoke with the research groups directly. The booths were grouped into four categories: transforming landscapes and cities, natural resource preservation and management, renewable energy, and the efficient use of resources in the built environment. The exhibits were open throughout the day, until the caterers rolled out a giant cake designed specifically for the event.

The coming weeks we will publish the videos of the three talks and panel discussions held at the 20th anniversary event.

For more pictures of ENAC's 20th anniversay day, click here.