The University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Computational Design has developed a method for building with wood in which a building effectively shapes itself during the drying process.
The institute has demonstrated this effect in the 14m-tall Urbach Tower, near Stuttgart, in which the curved form is "programmed" to occur during the drying process, with the elements of the tower designed and made in a flat state so that they transform themselves into the final building’s curved shape.
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As the institute comments on its website, "This opens up new and unexpected architectural possibilities for high performance and elegant structures, using a sustainable, renewable, and locally sourced building material. The Urbach Tower constitutes the very first structure worldwide made from self-shaped, building-scale components."
The design is made possible by new computational simulations, which allow more accurate predictions of how the wood will change as it dries.
The Urbach tower is made from 12 sheets of cross-laminated spruce, clad with glue-laminated larch, however the technique can theoretically be used with any wood. It is one of 16 structures designed by German architects for the Remstal Gardenshow. It is intended to provide "a place of shelter, internal reflection and outward view by revealing stunning vistas and framing the landscape".
Image: The Urbach Tower (ICD/ITKE University of Stuttgart)