This 30-foot lightweight tower proves that the strongest architectural structures don’t have to be made from hard materials like concrete and steel. In fact, the Hybrid Tower is completely made from soft materials and textiles. A group of researchers, specialists and engineers at CITA – Centre for Information Technology and Architecture– an innovative research program at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (KADK)– developed the project as a proof of concept and exhibited it at the Contextile festival in Guimaraes, Portugal.
The innovative manufacturing process allowed the team to knit materials as structural elements in a novel way. The tower comprises two main components–bent GFRP (glass fiber reinforced polymer) rods and a custom-made CNC knit. These two materials are extremely lightweight but are capable to form stiff structures that can withstand significant external forces through compression and tension.
Several simulations, analysis and material design phases preceded the final fabrication process. The team created a new simulation and testing techniques for elastic materials, with the final shapes knitted directly on the CNC knitting machine. The structural skin is a single component produced as a large pre-stressed panel and then rolled into shape, tensioned, transported and erected on site.
It takes only six people to carry the tower and assemble it quickly thanks to a set of puzzle-like joints integrated into the form of the structure. Although lightweight and flexible, the round beams of the Hybrid Tower can withstand up to 110 pounds (50 kilos) each.