Researchers created a twisting tower, called ‘Urbach Tower’, made from timber that bends into shape by ‘programming’ the wood so it transforms into desired shaped.
Digitally modeling the deformations occur in the drying process that can arrange the wood before drying to produce specific deformations, moreover with flat wood bilayers plates.
The plates are dried using industrial drying processes and they emerge curved. The species of wood, grain orientations, thickness ratios, and the change in moisture during the drying process are all parameters that affect the curvature.
The tower is the first one globally to use self-shaped building-scale components. The bilayers were produced to contain 22% wood moisture content and then were dried to 12%, which is standard for this kind of construction.
Once dried and curved, the bilayers were stacked and glued together to lock their curvatures in place. The tower was later finished with a protective facade of larch wood.
The tower is also equipped with sensors that will track moisture content over the decade to try and keep tabs on any further bending.
It is hoped that the Urbach Tower acts as a proof-of-concept for a form of self-shaping architecture, hence making wood a more appealing material of various projects, while also cutting down costs.
“While making this work is relatively simple, predicting the outcome is the real challenge,” said researcher Achim Menges. “Being able to do so opens up many new architectural possibilities.”