Yves Weinand wins French Academy of Architecture Award

© 2017 EPFL

© 2017 EPFL

The French Academy of Architecture has awarded the 2017 silver medal for research and technology to Yves Weinand, director of EPFL’s Laboratory for Timber Constructions (IBOIS), in recognition of his contribution to architectural creation.

On Tuesday, 13 June in Paris, the French Academy of Architecture awarded this year's silver medal for research and technology to Yves Weinand, director of EPFL's IBOIS laboratory. The medal honors a French or foreign engineer or researcher who has contributed to refining or further developing construction techniques through his or her studies, research, inventions or buildings.

"The prize recognizes our contribution to technology in architecture and our support for technology transfer. We believe in emancipating that technology, which we think can nourish architectural expression without necessarily requiring a purely utilitarian approach to be taken," says Weinand.

For more than ten years, the IBOIS laboratory has been pushing the boundaries in wood construction. The lab's approach represents a blend of architecture and civil engineering: "It is the construction method and its technical constraints that define the architectural style of a building, and not the other way around – just like in classical Roman architecture, where the construction method is visible and provides the outline for the building's architectural expression."

This technology transfer has recently been put to use in several public buildings, including the Saint-Loup chapel in Pompaples, the roof of the Vaud parliament building, and the pavilion of the Théâtre de Vidy in Lausanne, which will be inaugurated in September.

"This award inspires me to focus further on the construction skills of architecture students at EPFL," says Weinand. "I'm working with the director of the Institute of Architecture, Paolo Tombesi, to expand the courses we offer in new materials, building technologies, logistics, energy, sustainability and structure, starting in September 2018."

The Academy of Architecture awards around 30 prizes each year. Last year, the research and technology medal went to Livio De Luca, director of research at France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). In December 2016, the Academy awarded the prize for best architecture book to Jacques Lucan, an honorary professor of architecture at EPFL.