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Urbach Tower – Opening 2019

Self-shaping manufacturing for a curved timber tower, Remstal Gartenschau 2019, Urbach

Institute for Computational Design and Construction (Prof. A. Menges)
Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (Prof. J. Knippers)

The Urbach Tower with its striking timber structure will serve as a landmark building for the City of Urbach’s contribution to the Remstal Gartenschau 2019.

The design of the tower’s unique form and structure highlight the architectural and structural application of curved timber plates produced using an innovative large-scale self-shaping manufacturing method. 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 only driven by the wood’s characteristic shrinking during a decrease of moisture content. Components for the 14 m tall tower are designed and manufactured in a flat state and transform autonomously into the final predicted curved shapes during the industry-standard technical drying.

The technology of self-shaping manufacturing for solid timber boards and the rapid adaptability of the process to different curvatures open up new and unexpected architectural possibilities for thin shell wood structures, using a sustainable, renewable, and locally sourced building material.

>>Urbach Tower project page