White Tower Mulegns will be 23 meters high in the Swiss Alps »3dpbm
The village of Mulegns is located on the road to the Julier Pass, and has only 16 inhabitants. The aim of the ETH project is to bring culture and revitalize the region. This plan is the brainchild of Giovanni Netzer, theater director and founder of the Origen cultural festival. To this end, his foundation moved an old villa, reopened a hotel, and now has the White Tower Mulegns 3D printed with white concrete.
The White Tower Mulegns was designed and planned by ETH professor Benjamin Dillenburger and Michael Hansmeyer of the Digital Building Technologies research group, in collaboration with the Origen Foundation. The tower is 23 meters high and consists mainly of white concrete 3D printed columns of organic shape. They support four floors, each measuring between four and eight meters high. At the top, they form a dome and surround a stage where plays, dance performances and concerts will take place.
The project is a fascinating mix of culture and science. ETH aims to use this collaboration to strengthen the association between culture, research and technological development, said Detlef Günther, vice president of research at ETH Zurich, “because new knowledge often emerges at the intersection from various disciplines ”.
The White Tower will occupy a prominent place on the Julier Pass and is visually evocative of the Grisons confectionery tradition. Many Grisons emigrants made a name for themselves as pastry chefs in European capitals in the 18th century, with their creations richly decorated with delicate little sugar towers.
The tower will stand out not only artistically, but also in terms of construction, as it will be one of the tallest 3D printed robotic structures. Alongside Benjamin Dillenburger, three other ETH professors from the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication are involved in the development process: Robert Flatt works on mixing concrete – the “ink” for the 3D printer, so to speak – while Walter Kaufmann is responsible for the structural integrity and connections of the printed concrete elements, and Andreas Wieser’s field is metrology and inspection.
The 3D printing approach to construction makes it possible to produce complex geometries and use concrete exactly where it is needed for the supporting structure. The structure will also need less raw materials overall, as no formwork is required.
If all goes as planned, a public construction site will be set up in April 2022, and everyone will be able to watch a robot apply the white concrete layer by layer. This robot will only need two hours for a column three meters high. And the dismantling process is also already planned: the concrete elements can all be dismantled, and the tower can theoretically be rebuilt in another location.
ETH and the Origen Foundation already worked together in 2019, when digitally printed concrete columns were used to create a set design for dance and theater performances in the gardens of Villa Carisch in Riom.