EPFL pays homage to François Iselin

© 2022 EPFL

© 2022 EPFL

François Iselin sadly passed away on 11 October 2022. He worked as an expert advisor, researcher and teacher at the institute of architectural engineering, within EPFL’s department of architecture, until 2005.

François Iselin was an avowed environmentalist before the concept became mainstream, showing us the benefits of ecological construction methods, sustainable new materials, and holistic, environmentally responsible approaches that consider the full lifecycle of every component in the process.

He demonstrated what it means to advocate for change, through his lifelong efforts to promote better health, safety and equality in the workplace – designing these values right into the built environment. For instance, he’s known for his work to support asbestos victims, and more generally for his dream of building a better world.
Upon retiring from EPFL, he left behind hundreds of appraisal reports, some of them highly controversial. He was often called on by peers, private individuals and various entities to evaluate buildings and other structures.
In the 1980s François Iselin helped develop the first generation of construction and maintenance software, initially for designing the shells of buildings and later, in the 1990s, for computer-assisted maintenance.
In the 2000s he helped create the DoMobile – a lightweight, low-cost system for constructing buildings by laying them on a foundation fastened to the ground. This was also when he designed a refugee tent with an inflatable structure free of any rigid parts.
François Iselin generously shared everything with his students, not only his knowledge, convictions and engagement, but also his rants and outbursts – and his direct way of speaking occasionally stood out in the world of academia. His skills were known far and wide: many young EPFL graduates turned to him for advice when they had to make tough construction-related decisions or decipher a building’s odd structural behavior.
The second floor of the BP Building rang with François Iselin’s joyful voice and charismatic laughter in the years following the architecture department’s move to the Ecublens campus. And when you saw his unmistakable figure walking towards you in the hallway, you knew you were in for your anecdote of the day.

Laure Kochnitzky Palluel
Architecture Section - Deputy of Section

Peter Zurbrügg
Architecture Section - Lecturer