Elegant, user-oriented, and most importantly, environmentally friendly: construction of the new “LEE” building for the ETH, a science and technology university in Zurich, had to meet the highest demands in terms of sustainable architecture. It was for this reason that architect Fawad Kazi chose to use organic flooring from Vorwerk, and he even did so for the spacious entrance area. “LEE” was completed in 2014 and is the first building to be realised as part of the master plan to incorporate additional structures on the university site in the heart of Zurich. The new building fills a construction gap between Leonhardstrasse and the machine laboratory in the immediate vicinity of the University Teaching Hospital’s park. The simple, sand-coloured block of 11 storeys with a further four underground levels houses the institutes for mechanical and process engineering and the ETH’s Center of Economic Research. Students and lecturers alike enjoy ample space in a total of 18,000 square metres of floor space, in which offices, lecture theatres and seminar and media rooms are arranged, along with two roof gardens.
The premise of architect Fawad Kazi was not opulence – the interior is dominated by sober fair-faced concrete and a modest design – but rather an environmentally-friendly building concept. With low-emission construction materials, energy-saving lighting and thermos-active ceiling panels, which ensure a pleasant ambient climate, the building meets the Minergie-ECO standard and has been awarded a certificate to this effect. In the entrance hall, the glass roof and slender supports of which convey a rather particular industrial charm, Fawad Kazi opted for Vorwerk’s “RE/COVER green” elastic organic flooring in the “Volcanic Dash” version. This low-maintenance flooring is an excellent alternative to conventional flooring made of polyvinylchloride (PVC), which is still used for designer flooring due to its longevity, but remains difficult to dispose of. “RE/COVER green” is made using naturally renewable raw materials such as organic polyurethane, which makes the elastomer collection emission-free and entirely recyclable. In addition, this flooring is genuinely pleasing to the eye too, and is appreciated by the students who meet and linger in the entrance area: with its oscillating grey nuances, which form a fine pattern similar to natural stone, it is a far cry from the dreary linoleum floors still used in so many institutions.
As part of the 2003 master plan, young architect Fawad Kazi designed a new building for ETH Zurich to house its institutes of mechanical and process engineering, as well as the Center of Economic Research. Photo © Vorwerk flooring
Sustainability in place of opulence: the “LEE” building at the ETH Zurich impresses with its environmentally-friendly building concept and meets the Minergie-ECO standard. Photo © Vorwerk flooring
In the light-flooded entrance hall with its industrial charm, the architect chose to use Vorwerk’s “RE/COVER green” elastic organic flooring. Photo © Vorwerk flooring
Oscillating grey tones in the “Volcanic Dash” color option radiate in the interplay of light and shade, forming a vibrant pattern on the floor. The flooring design was developed in Vorwerk’s own workshop. Photo © Vorwerk flooring
The long corridor with its adjoining cafeteria offers students space to work or relax. Those with allergies can breathe easily here: the flooring is free of harmful bitumen or PVC and is therefore odor-free and extremely long-lasting. Photo © Vorwerk flooring