Semester Project / Thesis Project

Main content

Mode Project
Language German / English

various tutors

Fall / Spring
Program BSc Eng / MSc Eng / MEST / MBS
Credits 30 ECTS for a master thesis / 8 ECTS for a semester project

The Chair of Architecture and Building Systems provides supervision for both Bachelor and Master students who are working on their thesis projects. Students can choose from a list of open thesis topics or write a thesis proposal of their own. If you are interested or require further information, please contact the respective tutor.

Current open semester project / thesis topics

FEM Simulation of SoftRobotic Actuator

Soft robotics offers solutions to problems where classical robotics failed to succeed such as the modular solar facade, currently being developed at our chair. Several actuator prototypes have already been designed, fabricated, and implemented on building-scale facades. (image: FEM simulation of the soft robotic actuator)

Design Optimisation of the Soft Robotic Actuator for Adaptive Solar Facade

Semester Project / Master Thesis

The goal of this thesis is to analyse kinematics and stress-strain behaviour of the bellow-like pneumatic actuator and propose an optimal design that reduces the stress in the material during inflation and provides necessary forces to counteract certain wind disturbances. Previous experience with finite element method (FEM) software recommended but not necessary. Read more (PDF, 204 KB)


ASF mounted onto HoNR facade

The Adaptive Solar Facade (ASF) is an array of independently actuated thin film solar panels. The actuation allows for solar tracking and precise control of solar insolation into the building. (image: ASF mounted onto the HoNR facade)

Archetype Analysis of the Adaptive Solar Facade

Semester Project / Master Thesis

The goal of this thesis is to use numerical methods to determine what building types are best suited for the application of the ASF. Read more (PDF, 2.2 MB)


Optimum Operating Conditions of a Building Integrated Photovoltaic Thermal Collector (BIPVT)

Semester Project / Master Thesis

Integrating photovoltaic/thermal (PVT) hybrid collectors into the building envelope play a key role for the contemporary goal of constructing net-zero and plus-energy buildings. The goal of this thesis is to improve the understanding of the interaction of the collector with various building components such as heat pump, TABS or geothermal boreholes. Read more (PDF, 142 KB)



Concept Study for a Reflective Adaptive Solar Facade

Semester Project / Master Thesis

An adaptive solar façade with specular reflectors is proposed. The façade will create new application possibilities, e.g. in the field of concentrating solar power and indirect lighting. Analytical and experimental studies will be conducted to assess the potential and limitations of this concept. Read more (PDF, 1.9 MB)


Sage Glass

In response to a set voltage, electrochromic glass can modify solar gains and light transmission properties. This flexibility can be used to improve energy performance and occupant comfort of interior space. (image: Sage electrochromic glass)

Numerical Analysis to Characterise the Performance of Electrochromic Glass Panels

Semester Project / Master Thesis

This project will investigate numerical methods for characterising a glazing panel in terms of solar radiation. This data will be applied to improve the energy performance of a building. Read more (PDF, 194 KB)


Solar-powered DC Lighting for Sustainable Buildings

Semester Project / Master Thesis

Direct current (DC) coupling of photovoltaic generation with DC loads in buildings has the potential to avoid power conversion losses arising in conventional alternating current (AC) based networks. In this thesis, you will investigate the energy efficiency of a building DC network prototype comprised of PV panels and an LED lighting system. The power flows between individual components are measured and system efficiency evaluated for different weather and load conditions. Read more (PDF, 134 KB)


Current open master thesis topics at FCL

MUSES exhibition table  
exhibition table: research concept "Multi-Scale Energy Systems"

The A/S Team offers exciting thesis topics at our Singapore location. . Please send two topics of your interest and confirm your availability.


Examples of current topics:

Investment costs and power curves for conversion technologies in Singapore

Semester Project
Investment costs and power capacities of conversion technologies are the main drivers of optimization of energy infrastructure. This thesis aims at analyzing how future changes in prices of new conversion technologies will affect their profitability in comparison to other energy efficiency strategies.

Constructing and calibrating a generic model for moisture transfer in buildings

Master Thesis
An accurate dynamic moisture transfer model in buildings is the foundation to study cooling energy supply systems in the hot and humid climates. The goal of this thesis is to build a model for moisture transfer in buildings, which is similar to the existing Resistance-Capacitance (RC) model for heat transfer (ISO 13790-2008) used for space sensible heating and cooling load calculation.

Optimal Thermal Storage Sizing as A Demand Response Alternative to Mitigate the Variability of Distributed PV Generation

Master Thesis
This thesis aims at analyzing a demand response alternative utilizing cold thermal storage in a district. The work of the thesis includes modelling of ice storage and the storage size optimization accounting power grid constraints and building energy demands. The optimization goal is to achieve low energy consumption of the cooling supply system and maximize the cost benefit of operating decentralized PV system.

Completed master thesis projects


Numerical Energy Analysis of PV Modules as Adaptive Building Shading Systems

Student: Jeremias Schmidli, MSc MEST

This thesis developed a methodology to simultaneously calculate the building energy demand and the PV electricity production of a building with PV modules as adaptive building shading systems. A parametric model was built for dynamic evaluations and optimizations of such a system. A case study was then performed on a model representing the prototype of the ASF at the House of Natural Resources at ETH Zurich.

It was possible to find the optimizing configurations of the described system as well as the corresponding building energy demand. Furthermore, various influences were evaluated including sensitivities on the building orientation, the geographic location, the control strategy, and the building system parameters. The work was published in two conference papers:  “Energy Analysis of Dynamic BIPV Modules as Adaptive Shading Systems” (PVSEC 2016) and “Energetic performance and system design of adaptive photovoltaic envelopes” (Forschen für den Bau im Kontext von Energie und Umwelt 2016)

energy demand  
Energy Demand at Optimum Angle Combination
Radiation on panels  
Detailed Radiation on Panels of the ASF

Life Cycle Assessment of New Building Technologies: HiLo Project

Student: Michiel Jansen, MSc MEST

This thesis conducted a life cycle assessment of three technologies used in the HiLo building: the Adaptive Solar Facade, a funicular floor system and a thin-shell roof. The main goal was to evaluate if these technologies reduce carbon emissions in the built environment, and provide design strategies which improve environmental performance. The work resulted in the journal publication "Life Cycle Assessment of Dynamic Building Integrated Photovoltaics" (in Solar Energy Materials & Solar Cells, read the paper here).

HiLo rendering and ASF module detail  
ASF module detail, HiLo floor system and HiLo rendering

Urban Condensator in the Siemens Areal, Zug

Student: Sara Vima Grau, MSc Arch, in collaboration with ETSAB

Not unlike many European cities, the growing needs of Zug (Switzerland) demand a closer proximity of the inhabited city, the productive city and the networked city. Elements of the urban metabolism which were previously relegated to the city outskirts, far from the public eye, will now have to be an integral part of the urban fabric in their new locations of strategic centrality. Likewise, the energy logistics of the past century, that used to occupy decentralized locations have to be reallocated, looking for local opportunities. The aim of this master thesis was to pursue an experimental proposal on the coexistence of goods / energy storage and production infrastructures, versus the growth of the city because of them. What is the vision for a carbon free city, based on the energy logistics of the 21st century, where different urban systems are superposed and ensure quality of life?

The thesis employed a research by design methodology, in which the design proposal was the guide and result of the research at different moments / scales of the project. The main motivation was to showcase the potential of architecture and urban design as a means to bring the existent technology and theory to human scale in a cohesive project.

Part 1: Conceptual and critical statements
2000 Watt initiative: background, stakeholders, demands, opportunities
proposing a framework of regulations that support urban and architecture design based on local energy sources and sustainable development

Part 2: Urban & energy design - Zug and the Siemens Areal
territorial and urban / site analysis; energy demands and sources
proposing urban design scheme and energy logistics

Part 3: Architecture & human scale - detailed proposals
precise definition / further articulation of a part of the urban design scheme

Master Thesis Model Axonometric View  
Work in progress - images of the model
Site plan axonometric aerial view  
Site plan - axonometric aerial view
building systems concept  
Building systems concept

Occupant Centered Lighting Control

Student: Fah Yik Yong, MSc MEST

This thesis was a user study on occupant-centered lighting control in a 12-week experiment under real-world conditions in six offices at the ETH Zurich campus with a total of ten participants. The control system generates office-specific set points for switch-on and switch-off actions through analysing occupancy and light usage data collected from the offices. As a result, it can be stated that both energy consumption (37.7%) and wastage (1.0%) can be reduced by the system, while occupant comfort is not impacted negatively. A general satisfaction with the control system and a high level of acceptance (85.8%) for the control actions was also assessed.

Overview of a lighting control system  
overview of a lighting control system
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Sat Feb 25 05:45:34 CET 2017
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