DigitalFUTURES Project Award 2020 – URBACH TOWER

This award is given to a recently completed project that has a significant contribution to architectural discipline through applications of digital technology. The scale of the project could be ranging from fashion design to urban development.


A unique tower made from self-shaping wood,

Remstal Gartenschau 2019, Urbach, Germany

The Urbach Tower is a unique wood structure built by the Institute for Computational Design and Construction (ICD) and Institute for Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) from University of Stuttgart. 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 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. This opens up new and unexpected architectural possibilities for wood structures, using a sustainable, renewable, and locally sourced building material.

The Urbach Tower is the first wood structure made from self-shaped components. It serves as a landmark building for the City of Urbach’s contribution to the Remstal Gartenschau 2019.

image credit : ICD / ITKE – University of Stuttgart


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