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White Tower at the Julier Pass, Benjamin Dillenburger, Michael Hansmeyer, Photo: Benjamin Hofer

A Small Village Wants to Attain New Heights − White Tower at the Julier Pass

The plans were long secret. Giovanni Netzer, artistic director of the Origen theatre festival, kept mum about the plans for a tower in Mulegns. He wants to give the dying village new life with cultural events. This has already been a success in the nearby village of Riom, where a theatre barn, a castle resurrected with a variable stage and the Red Theatre Tower at the Julier Pass is attracting arts fans from all over Switzerland. The same will now happen in Mulegns. In the 19th century, this forgotten place was a waystage for travellers. Three historically valuable structures are witnesses from that time; they are also being painstakingly refurbished by the Origen cultural institution and used as a hotel as well as for cultural purposes.

The White Tower will represent a counterpoint to the historical buildings. It was developed by the cultural institution in collaboration with various department chairs from the ETH in Zurich. An interdisciplinary group of 22 professors from Switzerland are working on new shapes and materials for the buildings of the future. The group comprises architects, materials researchers, civil engineers, mechanical engineers and geomatics specialists. The tower will serve as an example of how architecture and research in both materials and building methods can connect and demonstrate how sustainable, material-economical and recyclable architecture may look in the future.

In fact, the construction will demand as little material as absolutely necessary. It will not require any formwork and will reduce transport costs by means of on-site assembly. The elements will be printed individually in a total of 4,000 printed layers, each of which will be 5 mm tall and 20 mm wide. The hollow building components will be stacked onto an existing base that once accommodated a smithy. With this real, tangible project, the initiators and planners of the White Tower hope to spark a broad social discussion of future building techniques. Visitors will be able to observe the 3D-printing robot at work and delve into concepts of digital technology.

Groundbreaking is planned for April 2022 and the robot will start printing in May; the tower will be set up in 2023. It is slated to stand for five years, whereupon it will be disassembled and rebuilt in another location.

The White Tower of Mulegns will bring together tradition and innovation as well as art, science and engineering. It will converge with the old smithy and stand 29 m tall; its widest point will have a diameter of 9 m. These dimensions will make it the world’s largest printed building. In the theatre hall beneath the dome, 45 spectators will be astounded not only by the performances and installations, but surely also by the architecture surrounding them.

Further Information:

Building-costs: 3,2 Mio Euro

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DETAIL 1-2/2022

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