ETH Zurich to build the world's tallest 3D printed structure

ETH Zurich to build the world's tallest 3D printed structure

Scientists at ETH in Zurich have begun construction of the White Tower or Tor Alva: soon to be the tallest 3D printed structure in the world. The aim of the project is to boost tourism in a struggling village in the Swiss mountains.

White Tower (Tor Alva) to be the tallest 3D printed structure on earth

According to a statement given to Blick, the university began printing the first pieces of the White Tower on January 26. Once complete, the tower itself will measure 30 metres in height, making it the tallest building ever to be 3D-printed from scratch.

ETH noted that the modular printed design means that the structure could be assembled quickly and efficiently, using half the concrete of a regular tower of a similar size. The 3D printed design also allows the tower to adopt shapes unheard of or impossible to replicate in traditional architecture.

The tower itself will be printed in Zurich before being shipped to Graubünden for assembly in April. It is hoped that the tower will open in the town of Mulgens on June 25, set to be opened by Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and ETH president Joël Mesot. In total, the project will cost 4,1 million francs, to be paid for using public and private funds.

Video: Digital Building Technologies / YouTube

Hopes the 3D-printed structure will bring new life to Swiss village

The White Tower itself is intended to commemorate the so-called Graubünden confectioners (Bündner Zuckerbäcker). In the 15th century, many of the residents of the valleys of Graubünden were forced to emigrate from the region due to a lack of food. While many ended up as mercenaries fighting for foreign powers, many still found themselves as sweet and pastry makers in places from Venice to Copenhagen and even St. Petersburg. 

The tower will be used as a performance venue and attraction for the town of Mulgens. Blick noted that the area needs help, having seen its population fall significantly in recent years - so much so that the town is now controlled by the local council in nearby Surses and has a population of just 14 people. It is hoped that the tower will help bring tourism and interest back to the small town in the Julier Pass.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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