In thirteen years, the school has grown from 150 to 450 students (of which a quarter are foreign), has become a university and continues to obtain star ratings, here and abroad. Along the way, it has also acquired spectacular new premises, a textile factory converted and restyled by Bernard Tschumi, the world famous architect of Swiss origin. “L’écal’s contribution to the inventiveness and future of design is now universally recognized” acknowledges Yvette Jaggi, the former President of Pro Helvetia, the branch of the federal government that promotes Swiss culture abroad, as well as former Mayor of Lausanne.
The same thought process appears to have motivated the creation of an EPFL + ECAL Lab, although a Keller-perpetrated myth indicates that it was initially devised to ward off the undesired occupation of free space by the social services of Renens, the suburban town where l’écal is newly installed. Be that as it may, Keller contacted Patrick Aebischer, the Director of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (known locally as EPFL) to suggest a collaboration between designers, architects and engineers. The resulting Lab has been entrusted to Nicolas Henchoz, whose mission, no less, is to prove that innovation is capable of “reinventing links between research and society”.