Groningen, Netherlands, 2011
The observation tower is the result of a study into the optimal application of Ultra High Performance Concrete by a case study team comprising of UNStudio, ABT, BAM Utiliteitsbouw en Haitsma Beton. Natuurmonumenten received the design as a gift from the case study team.
The design for the observation tower is the result of a case study which aimed to apply the characteristics of Ultra High Performance Concrete in a functional, operative design. Ultra High Performance Concrete differs from normal concrete as it has a very high density, contains steel fibres and has an extremely fine grain structure. These properties facilitate the application of large compressive stresses in structures of narrow dimensions.The 25 metre high observation tower will be realised on the forested boundary of ‘De Onlanden’ nature reserve on the outskirts of Groningen. Once built, the tower will extend 5 metres above the trees and will offer views over the 3,000 hectares of natural landscape which form the largest water storage area in the Netherlands. The observation Tower is a hybrid construction, consisting of a combination of steel and Ultra High Performance Concrete. Steel is employed where the tensile stresses are foremost, whereas Ultra High Performance Concrete manifests excellent performance properties where the compressive stresses are highest. The parapet around the stairs and platforms is constructed from stainless steel mesh, enabling the combination of both maximum transparency and necessary safety levels.