HSLU researches the perfect house

Hier wird an der Gebäudetechnik der Zukunft geforscht.
Hier wird an der Gebäudetechnik der Zukunft geforscht.
The generous donation from HSLU alumnus Leo Looser to the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts Foundation enables the Department of Engineering & Architecture to research the "perfect house" of the future. A very special building is currently under construction. This is intended to help further develop building technology and answer pressing questions about resource-saving heating, ventilation and cooling and to bring together environmental protection and people’s comfort needs.

A new research module stands on the roof of the laboratory building in Horw, clearly visible to everyone coming from the station. It is a building on top of a building, 8 x 8 meters in plan and 4 meters high, has windows and doors and does not show at first glance what it can do. It conceals two research rooms and a technical room packed with building technology.

Sensors transform the room

When it comes to heating, cooling and ventilation, it makes a difference whether a room is constructed from heavy concrete walls or light wooden walls; the rooms react differently to solar radiation, the outside temperature or a change in the number of people in the room. Previous research modules either only cover one construction method or require expensive and time-consuming reworking for tests with different construction methods. In Horw, however, it is possible to experience and investigate how a heating or ventilation system behaves in a timber construction, for example, and how it behaves in a concrete construction, virtually at the touch of a button. To do this, sixty sensors continuously measure the heat balance on the room surfaces and use it to feed a computer model that calculates the surface temperatures. Accordingly, it requests water at the right temperature in the technical room, which flows through aluminum elements on the room surfaces. This makes it possible to experience the room condition as it would be in a room with real concrete walls, for example, without these being present. "This ability to quickly switch back and forth between different construction methods offers new possibilities in research, but also for demonstration purposes in teaching," says project manager Markus Koschenz.

It is no coincidence that the research module is located on the roof. "If we want to investigate people’s comfort in living and office spaces, it’s important that the environment is as realistic as possible. It makes a difference to people’s well-being whether we measure in a room without windows or in one with daylight and a view of the Horw mountain panorama," says Markus Koschenz.

Link between the real and digital worlds

The research module is part of the "The perfect house" project. "In the built research module, we want to clarify how structural and technical measures can be combined even better and what building technology and architecture will look like in the future," says Koschenz. The aim is to create a pleasant climate for people, even under the changed conditions, and to do so in a sustainable and CO2-neutral way. The findings from the real research module will then be transferred to a virtual model, which is much more extensive than the two research rooms. There, for example, the geometries of the rooms and the building can be adapted without great effort or it can be calculated how the building will behave in the climate at any location in the world. "This allows us to combine the advantages of real measurements with the flexibility of the digital world," says Koschenz.

Donated by an alumnus

This project was made possible by an alumnus: Leo Looser from Bad Ragaz. The 88-year-old engineer and passionate entrepreneur graduated from the "Technikum" in Lucerne almost 60 years ago with a degree in "Heating - Ventilation - Air Conditioning". After graduating, he and his siblings managed the family company Elco Looser Holding and later Looser Holding. The family continuously expanded both companies and took them public.

Thanks to Leo Looser’s donation of four million Swiss francs to the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts Foundation, research into the perfect house is now being carried out in Horw over a period of ten years in order to develop expertise that is unique in Switzerland and beyond its borders. "With my donation, I want to drive forward the development of building technology so that it can make its important contribution to the energy transition," says Leo Looser. What motivated him in particular: "The fact that young people are being trained at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts who have the

for their Bachelor’s and Master’s theses and transfer their knowledge to industry after graduation," says Leo Looser, explaining his commitment to the university.

The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts Foundation

The HSLU Foundation is a non-profit foundation based in Lucerne that was established in 2016. It specifically promotes talent, innovation, research and teaching at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

The HSLU Foundation relies on donations and grants to carry out its activities. More about the Foundation