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

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.




ICD – Institute for Computational Design and Construction, University of Stuttgart
Prof. Achim Menges, Dylan Wood
Architectural Design
Self-forming Curved Wood Components Research and Development


ITKE – Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design, University of Stuttgart
Prof. Jan Knippers, Lotte Aldinger, Simon Bechert 
Structural Design and Engineering


Scientific collaboration:

Laboratory of Cellulose and Wood Materials, Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology), Switzerland & Wood Materials Science, ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich), Switzerland
Dr. Markus Rüggeberg, Philippe Groenquist, Prof. I. Burgert 
Self-forming Curved Wood Components Research and Development (PI)


Industry collaboration:

Blumer-Lehmann AG, Gossau, Switzerland
Katharina Lehmann, David Riggenbach
Self-forming Curved Wood Components Research and Development 
Wood Manufacturing and Construction



Gemeinde Urbach

Remstal Gartenschau 2019 GmbH

University of Stuttgart

The Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt DBU (German Federal Environmental Foundation)
Design, Fabrication and Engineering Methods for the application of curved wood elements in high-performance, resource-efficient wood construction: Project Tower Urbach, Remstal Gartenschau 2019

InnoSuisse – Swiss Innovation Agency
Smart, Innovative Manufacturing of Curved Wooden Components for Architecture with Complex Geometry