Challenges and opportunities of interdisciplinarity : insights from human-centric building research at EPFL

Interdisciplinarity has become an inherent component of most research and education developments nowadays. It brings with it new challenges, from how to share a common language to how to avoid becoming generalists, as well as new opportunities in solving more complex problems through disciplinary complementarities. This is particularly true in building research, where a high diversity of skills, mindsets and approaches is needed to bring further advances to the field. This talk will discuss some specific initiatives at EPFL on growing a culture of interdisciplinarity and building synergies between traditionally distinct fields, especially in relation to the built environment. To provide building designers with the means necessary to assess critical parameters in a successful design and efficiently combine qualitative and quantitative criteria in the solution search process, we need to work from what we have and from what we need. This is true at the human occupant’s as much as at the urban environment’s scales : the recurring question one has to address in any of these contexts is how to best balance the resources we have available (solar radiation, energy, climate, natural or built surroundings) to fulfill, at minimum and beyond, our human needs, which range from well-being and comfort, to health and emotional delight, but also to social quality.

Presented at:
Building Technology Lecture Series, MIT, Cambridge, USA, April 6, 2017
Invited talk

 Record created 2017-06-13, last modified 2018-03-17

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