The University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) have joined forces to create the 14 meter-tall Urbach Tower in Germany. The tower is one of 16 permanent structures completed for the Remstal Gartenschau 2019. Located on a prominent hillside in the center of the valley, the tower visually connects several of these structures, while providing shelter, views, and a venue for internal reflection.
The Urbach Tower is a unique wood structure. The design of the tower emerges from a new self shaping process of the curved wood components. This pioneering development constitutes a paradigm shift in timber manufacturing from elaborate and energy-intensive mechanical forming processes that require heavy machinery to a process where the material shapes entirely by itself. This shape change is driven only by the wood’s characteristic shrinking during a decrease of moisture content.
Components for the 14m tall tower are designed and manufactured in a flat state and transform autonomously into the final, programmed curved shapes during industry-standard technical drying. This opens up new and unexpected architectural possibilities for high performance and elegant structures, using a sustainable, renewable, and locally sourced building material.