This Curved Tower in Stuttgart Was Formed Without Machines

Courtesy ICD/ITKE University of Stuttgart

It’s a new process called “self-shaping.”

It’s easy to forget how incredible the natural materials and resources around us are when there are so many technologically enhanced structures out there. But you only have to look to a group of engineers from the University of Stuttgart for a reminder.

The Urbach Tower in the Rems Valley is striking in appearance, even before you realize how it got its twisted shape. According to Dezeen, the design comes from two groups: the Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and the Institute for Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE). The tower is made of wood and utilizes a process that shows off the way wood shrinks when moisture is removed. The structure is made of timber panels that easily move and adjust based on moisture level. The Urbach Tower is the very first building to be constructed using this process, which the engineers have described as “self-shaping.”


Courtesy ICD/ITKE University of Stuttgart

This kind of construction requires very little energy, as the moisture levels in the panels are manipulated to get the curved shape. There’s no need for machinery to get these pieces into specific shapes. Builders determine the shape they want by closely monitoring the moisture in the wood. Once the proper moisture level is achieved and the shape has completed, the panels are put together. It’s a beautiful reminder that some of the best shapes come naturally in nature—sometimes leaving the heavy machinery at home is a good thing.


Courtesy ICD/ITKE University of Stuttgart

As time goes on, the exterior of the timber panels will lighten in color, resembling the white chapels that are traditional to the area. Want to check it out in person? The tower was created for the Remstal Garden Show, which can be seen through October 20, 2019.