Technical Tours

IASS 2024 Technical Tours

Photo by Nico Schaerer / Switzerland Tourism

To conclude the Symposium, Technical Tours will be held in person on Friday, August 30th, 2024, and will involve travel within Switzerland, allowing participants to gain unique access to and benefit from guided tours of a collection of carefully curated projects.

Registration for the tours opens on 1 June. You can book the tours via our registration page. All “Early Bird” registrants will be notified when the technical tours are open and available for registration.

See the 3 technical tours on offer this year:


Isler Historical Tour

Time: 08:00 to 18:00 (full-day) | Audience: those interested Heinz Isler’s work and its impact on future generations of designers | Requirements: comfortable shoes, and rain jackets (in case of bad weather) | Participation Fee: CHF 45- (coach transportation & light lunch included)

About the Tour

Switzerland is renowned in the field of structural design for its innovative and unconventional structures. The country is the birthplace of master builders like Robert Maillart and Heinz Isler, pioneers in the use of reinforced concrete in the twentieth century. Their work has become an integral part of the Swiss landscape. Today, it serves as a valuable source of inspiration for contemporary structural designers worldwide.

The tour will take participants to the canton of Bern, the home of Swiss engineer Heinz Isler. It will include visits to several of his free-form buildings in reinforced concrete, such as the garden center Wyss, a tennis hall center, the Kilcher shell, and the world-famous motorway station in Deitingen. The highlight will be a visit to the garden of his office in Lyssachschachen, where Isler’s prototypes remain in their original location. If weather permits, the tour will also stop at the Rossgraben bridge and the Schwandbach bridge by Robert Maillart.

Tour Guide: Dr. Giulia Boller


Concrete Innovation Tour

Time: 08:00 to 18:00 (full-day) | Audience: those interested the latest innovations in concrete manufacturing and application in Switzerland | Requirements: comfortable shoes, and rain jackets (in case of bad weather) | Participation Fee: CHF 45- (coach transportation & light lunch included)

About the Tour

Concrete has always been an important material for Switzerland. Historically, prominent structural designers like Maillart, Isler, Menn, Conzett, Calatrava and Schwartz, to name a few, pushed the limits of this versatile material. But, Switzerland is also the home/base of Holcim, the largest building materials provider and global giant in cement and concrete production.

This technical tour, organised by Prof. Philippe Block and his team, will focus on innovations in concrete materials, engineering and construction, ranging from sustainable concrete, digitally fabricated structural elements, 3D concrete printing, shell roofs and floors, etc. 

Highlights will include visits to the HiLo, Step2 and DFAB House units at Empa’s NEST, showing novel construction systems in concrete, made possible thanks to the latest advances in computational design and fabrication. Another key highlight will be an exclusive visit to Holcim’s state-of-the-art concrete plant in Siggenthal, which features the latest developments in decarbonisation measures, from an autonomous, electric fleet of quarry vehicles to kiln heat recovery, circularity through smart recycling of construction and demolition waste, optimised cement production through alternative fuels, the introduction of new raw materials, etc. showing different strategies for decarbonisation of the material.

If you want to learn about how concrete construction will manage to become net-zero in the next decades, then this is the tour for you!

Tour Guide: Prof. Philippe Block


Timber Innovation Tour

Time: 08:00 to 18:00 (full-day) | Audience: those interested in the latest timber construction innovations in Switzerland | Requirements: comfortable shoes, and rain jackets (in case of bad weather) | Participation Fee: CHF 45- (coach transportation & light lunch included)

About the Tour

During the last few years, general interest in timber constructions as a more ecological building material has grown. In timber research, a main objective is the development of innovative and efficient timber structures. On our tour, we will travel through the north of Switzerland, visiting a variety of projects that address current ecological challenges with different timber solutions, showcasing the potential and possibilities of the material.

The tour will include several guided visits to innovative Swiss timber constructions. Among others, we plan to visit the construction site of the HORTUS (House of Research, Technology, Utopia and Sustainability) project near Basel – this project demonstrates sustainability and spatial quality by combining wood and clay in its structure.

At ETH we will visit the House of Natural Resources, built as a post-​tensioned timber frame, a timber-​concrete composite slab with beech LVL, a hollow-​core timber-​concrete composite slab with beech LVL and a pure timber bi-​axial slab with beech CLT.

Other possible stops on the tour involve the Highrise H1, the Tamedia building, as well as the Swiss saltworks in Riburg. We will also have the chance to get a tour by Erne AG in their fabrication center of wooden structures in Stein.

Tour Guides: Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Pauli, Prof. Dr. Andrea Frangi, Erne AG Holzbau