Felix Heisel is an architect and researcher in the Chair of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel at the ETH Zürich, Switzerland and the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore. His tasks include the coordination of research projects within the field of alternative construction materials based on local resources, e.g. bamboo, waste and mycelium. Prior, he taught and lectured at the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and the University of the Arts Berlin, Germany.
Based on his interest and research on alternative building materials, design and construction methods, Felix Heisel published Lessons of Informality: Architecture and Urban Planning for Emerging Territories (2016, Birkhäuser), Building from Waste: Recovered Materials in Architecture and Construction (2014, Birkhäuser), and contributed articles to magazines and books such as A+U Architecture and Urbanism (2016, 458-460) or The Economy of Sustainable Construction (2013, Ruby Press). His interest in Ethiopia’s urban growth resulted in the making of the movie series _Spaces, a collection of six documentaries on space appropriation in Addis Ababa, started together with Bisrat Kifle in 2011.
Felix Heisel has won several awards and grants within the last years, such as a Ministry of Education (MOE) Innovation Grant (2014), an ZUMTOBEL GROUP Award (2014), a Swiss KTI project fund (2014), the SMART Innovation Grant Singapore (2013) or the Bauhaus.SOLAR Award (2012). He also contributed to several architectural competition entries, such as the 1st prize Sulzer Werk 1 Winterthur, Switzerland (2009) with Gigon/Guyer Architects; the 1st prize Bole Road Hotel Competition Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2009) with Zegeye Cherenet Architects & Associates and the 3rd prize Städel Museum Frankfurt, Germany (2008) with Gigon/Guyer Architects. Currently, Felix Heisel is practicing architecture in Switzerland and Ethiopia together with Marta H. Wisniewska.
The Chair of Architecture and Construction at FCL concentrates its research on alternative construction materials and their application in specific contextual settings, taking into account the local availability of materials, human resource capacities and skills. This approach informs a laboratory to test new ideas and the combination of already existing materials and knowledge. The movies series ‘_Spaces’ aims to document a century old way of living in times of rapid transformation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Based on the believe that the informal sector can teach important lessons on the use of architecture and its social role, Felix Heisel and Bisrat Kifle initiated this research initiative based on cinematic documentaries. Although originally intended as a teaching tool for students at the institute, rising interest in these documentaries recently led to public screenings in Africa and Asia.