Tianfu Forest Tower
Designed to blend in with the surrounding grove of deciduous trees, the Tianfu Forest Tower overlooks the new Tianfu Agricultural Exposition, a series of five timber-arched vaults that mimic the nearby mountains of the Sichuan Basin and create a major global tourist attraction. This observation tower is part of a major development program in the greater metropolitan area of Chengdu, which aspires to compete with other major economic hubs in China.
As visitors walk the exposed timber decks that run from the Exposition, through the flowing fields and to this forest grove, they feel the beauty of the local plants and trees that naturally grow in the region. The roof is angled, allowing water to flow off and providing a natural aesthetic to the tower and surrounding walks.
StructureCraft led the design and engineering on this project and supervised construction, working with SKF to create this lookout for the Tianfu Agricultural Expo.
Structurally, the tower is comprised of a warped nail laminated timber roof, supported by a series of randomly leaning glulam columns which reach up to 8m high. Each of the column orientations was optimized to minimize the orthotropic stresses that occur in the NLT panels and to ensure that the sum of all column vectors equals a zero net horizontal force on the roof. Grasshopper 3D, a plugin to Rhinoceros 3D, was used to generate 402 different structural iterations, until the optimal one was arrived at.